Them Bones

Sometimes, you learn that a bedrock principle of your life is wrong, and it shakes you to your core.

That’s how I felt, as a former dinosaur-loving kid, when I recently discovered there’s no such thing as a Brontosaurus.

Apparently, there’s a whole long story about the Bone Wars, an early paleontology feud between Othniel Charles Marsh (a fellow Yalie!) and Edward Drinker Cope, and mixing up parts of different dinosaurs (an Apatosaurus and a Camarasaurus). The moral of which is, there’s really no such thing as a Brontosaurus at all.

Holy crap.

Snot Nosed

In my younger days, I got sinusitis every winter. It’s sort of a family tradition, enough so that my father and brother both had sinus surgery to prevent it. On their recommendation, I bought a Neilmed sinus rinse bottle five years back. And nearly every morning since, I’ve sprayed saltwater up my nose. Gross as it initially seemed, it worked, and I haven’t had a single bout of sinusitis since.

Until, that is, this week. In the wake of my Juno flu, I’ve been full of boogers, unable to breathe, and coughing up a storm due to post-nasal drip. I’ve drank fluids, used the Neilmed twice daily, tried to rest and generally followed any get-well advice, all to no avail. Which led my father to share a tip he’d received in turn from an ENT colleague: when nasal irrigation with saltwater doesn’t cut it, research backs adding betadine or baby shampoo to the rinse as ways to knock out the biofilms driving the infection.

Though both additives sounded repulsive, I was getting desperate. So I swung through Duane Reade this evening, and picked up a bottle of each.

Turns out, if you mix betadine with saltwater, then spray it up your nose, it stinks of iodine, and burns a bit, but isn’t too bad.

On the other hand, if you do the same thing with baby shampoo, you end up with a nose full of lather. And, for about an hour after, you have a horrific lavender taste in the back of your mouth like you’re sucking an entire package of violet mints, along with intermittently coughing up bubble bath foam.

Let’s hope this combo works. And quickly. As I’m not sure how long I can stand keeping it up.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
-Henry Ford

Juno Flu


While the blizzard was a bust, I figured out a good way to spend my snow day nonetheless: in bed with the flu.

Gemelli and Penne have been keeping guard over me, and Jess has been kindly covering nursing duty on top of doing her own work from home.

Working on bouncing back fast!


And, still on the Northstar front: we have a new website up that explains a bit more about what we’re up to.

[Relatedly: if you’re an awesome CrossFit coach, or know one, point them to our hiring page. It’s an excellent gig, and we’re staffing up fast.]

In the Mood

We’re gearing up for some Northstar build-outs, designing spaces that live up to the coaching, community and the broader member experience we’ve been developing. To that end, some mood boards we’ve pulled together:



Locker Rooms:


Workout Space:


In short, we’re shooting for ’boutique hotel’ in the entrances and bathrooms, while keeping the WOD spaces to a gritty, industrial, authentically CrossFit feel. Looking forward to seeing them done!

Baby Steps


When we think about the future, we tend to imagine new technologies showing up in our lives fully formed. For example, you might expect that the next car you buy, and maybe even the car after that, will just be regular cars. But then, one car further into the future, you get a car that drives itself. A self-driving car! Out of nowhere! Skynet!

In reality, though, groundbreaking technologies usually arrive in the real world piecemeal, through slow, iterative feature introduction. Consider that self-driving car: your current car is likely already AI-enabled. You call that AI “cruise control,” and it keeps the car going at a steady speed without you having to put your foot on the gas or breaks. More recently, a number of car companies have introduced adaptive cruise control – cruise control that monitors whether the car in front of you is slowing down or speeding up, and adjusts accordingly. And for years, a number of car manufacturers have provided the option of parallel parking assistance – line up in front of a curbside space, and the car automatically backs you in.

Going forward, your car is likely to get slightly smarter still. It might, say, combine those two ideas, for cruise control that follows minor curves in the road, so you can drive a mostly-straightaway hands off. And then, perhaps, cruise control that connects to your GPS, so it can make the correct exit off the highway.

And so it goes. Baby-stepping forward, and arriving at the same self-driving car in about the same time frame as we might have originally predicted. But in an iterative way that doesn’t seem like magic, just the next obvious thing.

So when people complain that technology doesn’t solve big problems anymore, is more 140 characters than jetpacks, I think they’re only part right. Sure, we have more people doing laundry apps and dog walking SAS platforms than perhaps we should. But we also have way more authentic and impactful innovation happening in the things we use day to day in our lives – it’s just coming in slowly and steadily enough that we don’t notice it at all.

Which, depending on your perspective on technology, is either a bit like not noticing how much your children grow because you see them every day, or not realizing that you’re the frog in a pot of cool water on a hot burner, slowly and imperceptibly boiling to death.

Lindy Hop


Recently, I’ve been obsessing about the Lindy Effect, an observation about the lifespan of stuff like technology and ideas.

In it’s original form, the Effect observes that every additional day of life achieved implies an even longer life expectancy yet.

Or, in plain English: on average, you’re halfway there. So there’s likely another half of the life of an idea or technology still to come.

Applied to startup companies, that means that, on average, you’re about halfway through your growth cycle, about half as big as you’re going to get.

Therefore, if you tell me your company is going to double in size in the future, I should probably believe you. But if you project 10x or 20x growth, I should be dubious.

The problem is, to double in size, you usually only have to do the kinds of things you’re already doing, just a bit more efficiently, or maybe with a little more economy of scale. But to hop up an order of magnitude, you need to do completely different things, in ways completely different from how you’re doing them now.

Psychologically, that’s challenging, the startup version of the Innovator’s Dilemma. You’re running the company the way that you’re running it because it works, because it’s what’s gotten you to where you are. But, to keep growing, to keep from stagnating indefinitely, you have to leave that safety behind, start trying out new things, think in bigger new ways, and risk failure all over again.

Which is hard. And stressful. But also necessary. It’s the only way you can build a company that doesn’t just double once, but somehow pulls off the exponential trick of doubling again and again and again.


Back in my early twenties, during the go-go days of the first Internet bubble, I used to get invited to speak at business schools. Each time, I’d tell the class of students: you’re older than me, smarter, wiser, more experienced. You don’t need to listen to what I have to say. And each time, I’d watch them dutifully write in their notebooks: ‘don’t listen to what he says.’

Ever since, I’ve been deeply dubious of b-schools. Start with the case method of teaching, for example. By definition, the companies students study became cases by doing new, interesting, innovative things. In other words, they became cases precisely by doing things you couldn’t learn from prior case studies.

Or consider the problem of the professors, academics removed from the front lines of real business. If you’re an eminent historian, there’s no better way than academe to pursue recognition or greatness in your field. Whereas, in business, the really interesting folks are out starting Apple or running GM, while the professors are just writing about it. There’s no more prime example of ‘those who can’t do, teach.’

That’s why I was so taken by this Boston Globe story about Harvard Business School professor Brian Edelman and his interactions with local Woburn restaurant Sichuan Garden.

The issue began when Edelman looked at the menu on the Sichuan Garden’s website, and placed a takeout order. He ate the food, and found it delicious. And then he noticed that he’d been charged $4 more ($57.35 vs $53.35) than he expected. So he emailed the restaurant to let them know, and to ask about the discrepancy.

Ran Duan, son of the mom-and-pop founders (and apparently “America’s Most Imaginative Bartender” according to last month’s GQ, for the Baldwin Bar inside the restaurant) wrote back a gracious email, explaining that the menu on the site was outdated, apologizing for the confusion, and promising to update the site.

The professors response? Calling the old menu a ‘serious violation’ under Massachusetts state law, and, citing consumer protection statute MGL 93a, demanding triple damages: $12.

Things go downhill from there, with Duan’s sane, friendly and remarkably patient emails intertwined with Edelman’s ever more douchey / crazy-town ones, leading to Edelman’s eventually “referring the matter to applicable authorities.”

Nice work, Professor Edelman! Keeping the world safe from small businesses trying hard to politely serve their local communities, and wasting the time of already overstretched enforcement agencies! It’s a double win!

Still, it’s also an excellent reminder of why I never went to business school. As an early colleague said to me some 15 years back, it’s much better to own an MBA than to be one.

Now, Again

“There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing left to pursue.”
– Hagakure