Thoughts on 5G

Just a quick array of thoughts on 5G that I’ve been mulling over. Would love to discuss more on Twitter.

I currently try to use 4G regularly, however, I frequently have no connection in my metro area. I typically lose connectivity when I am near crowded areas such as shopping malls and hospitals. I therefore resort to using 3G on a daily basis and it is still really fast for normal consumption.

OH MY G - Technology development moves quickly, so I’m excited that our connections become faster with each generation of tech. I’m still waiting for enough licensing capacity for my carrier to be able to sufficiently handle the 4G demand, which for the record came out in 2009. 10 years to kinda roll out 4G? Another point: I can’t imagine what connectivity outside the metro is like. (2G?) Is there a better way than the current licensing model? The investment required in the rollout is huge - how does this work in context of the next billion users, especially in rural areas?

OK G(oogle) - Google just released the Pixel 4, sans 5G. I’m not surprised. It’s so early in the release of 5G, however, it plays to a bigger question. What are the long-term interests of phone manufacturers, telecoms (who are members of 3GPP), and other tech players/startups looking to disrupt our current communication standards? Starlink, Blue Origin, Google and Facebook each have pieces on the board of connectivity options.

The investment necessary to upgrade to 5G is huge, and all 4 US carriers are starting. International markets are likewise moving forward as well, but I anticipate this role will be metro-centric. This still leaves am opportunity for more widespread connectivity, focusing on reaching the rural communities that are underserved. Is another disruptive technology ready to displace it, or is this new technology still a generation to early?

Another thought: as 5G caters to high-bandwidth consumption, which YouTube is a big source of, I think they’ve correctly prioritized optimizing the delivery of videos and ads by working on say things like: better compression, increased distribution of data centers, lower latency on their networks, and caching, which serves the consumers regardless of the network they are connecting from. Apple and Google will release 5G phones, however, as we can see they are thinking about the short and long term impacts of their choices.

Inspiration

Today is Friday, which at Symph, means it is our weekly all-hands meeting. These meetings usually vary in the format, the length and the flow, depending on the current pulse of the company. The general objective of the meeting is to engage with the entire team and provide context and updates on what is important right now. The approach that we have taken to the meeting format is to create a space where inspiration, honest dialog, and alignment can happen.

A visitor joined our meeting today and during the QA time, he asked where do we come up with all the wisdom that we share (disclosure: we don’t think we are that wise, so what we heard was “how do we create the model and content for the meetings”)? My co-founder Albert, answered first and said:

“We don’t always know what we’re doing, but we always believe in what we’re doing.”

This is very true and it specifically applies to the model of our meetings, as we don’t always have a detailed plan. I elaborated further that oftentimes we have a trajectory or big picture aim of the meeting and during the actual meeting we are trying to create a container or space for the team to all unite and move into that direction. As leaders we are casting the trajectory of the meeting, however we want to ensure that each team member is bringing the wisdom, insight and perspective that they have so we can all improve.

How do you facilitate all hand meetings in your startup?

A letter from a team member

As part of our Symph content and writing team, we were given the assignment to write an email to ourselves from a dissatisfied team member (or client). This was really a challenging letter to write, as in trying to be a good leader, this topic brings up all my biggest fears. So to shed some light on fear, here it is:

Dear Dave,

I’m writing you this email as I have already tried speaking to you and you are just too busy. That just proves my point though, so I will just write you an email, since you can’t bother to take time for me.

I’m really disappointed with you and where the company is headed. It feels like you are no longer holding true to the vision that you set out with and that all the words and speeches that you have given have no meaning to shape the direction of the company. You are just talking for the sake of talking and you aren’t actually doing what you say. I don’t understand what went wrong, but it feels like we are way off course and you need to get back to doing what you set out for the company to do. I joined the company because I believed in the vision, and that by joining the “right group of people” that we could change the world. Sadly, we are not having an impact that will change the world. We aren’t even close. We are just building websites and apps to make money. I wanted to escape the daily grind and join a visionary company, but it’s just the same here - “do this project”, “fix this little revision” and “keep pushing harder team, we are almost there.” Dave, we aren’t almost there - we are going the wrong way. I’m sorry to say this, but someone has to. I hope you can turn this around, but I don’t believe anymore.

Sincerely,
Someone who cared

PS - I quit.

Progress against the Struggle

I find myself looking for new apps to help me be more productive, more reliable, and just generally a better person. I look for other’s opinions and reviews to find a better way of doing things and to also feel that I am not alone in this struggle. The struggle is Real. I am learning that this response to the struggle is distraction. Searching for a new tool takes hours, and then more time getting it set up and doing the test drive.

Then, glowing in its minimalistic icon glory etched into my home screen it sits. And it sits. And so I sit. I didn’t make progress in the struggle, I simply distracted myself by looking for something that would make the struggle less painful. Oh fleeting joy of $1.99, you have tricked me again! It isn’t an app I need but rather a process. Process is hard but is the way I can progress against the struggle.

Taking Stock

Am I proud of the things that I have done? Was there a better way for me to do something? Could I have achieved the same result more effectively or easily? Did I screw something up?

The answer to these questions is a resounding yes. What differentiates greatness is the ability to learn from the scenarios and then apply that knowledge in the future. (Not that I know. Easy to type. Difficult to do.)

What I do know is that we made a few decisions last year at Symph that after taking stock needed to be reconsidered. We needed to change, as what we were observing and learning from the result was not the intended outcome. It felt scary at first to admit this - would the team think that we have lost our way? Would they question our ability to lead? They might; they probably did and they should.

Our premise as a startup is to always be learning and therefore be constantly trying new experiments and adapting to what we learn. Therefore, taking stock without acting upon it is futile.