Earl Lee


2019: Fall-Tinted Forest

Acadia National Park during the fall

2019 was a transformative year, a sliver of which I would have predicted a year earlier. I started off the year at FiscalNote, edging towards the 6-year mark having joined the team in July 2013 while still in school. After a send-off filled with more Smirnoff Ice than I drank in all of the past 6 years, I ventured off to having zero real responsibilities for a month—signed off Slack for the last time, moved in with my dad, made coffee, and read books. It was jarring at first. Work withdrawal is real. Then the bliss settled in, waking up at 10 A.M. with nothing to stress about and traveling to places new and familiar—Paris, Rome, and New York.

I found an opportunity to work at the Seed/Series A firm Costanoa Ventures so shipped off to the Bay Area. To say it was nothing short of perfect would be the truth. I got to meet and work with some of the smartest and most humble professionals of my career. I deepened my knowledge of B2B SaaS and started to understand the business of venture in a way that escapes just reading about it on TechCrunch or talking to practitioners.

Then came August as quickly as it seemed a distant future during the turn of the year. I met a sociable group of engineers-turned-managers in the MS/MBA program and an inspiring group of diverse students in my business school section. Time, since then, has passed by in a blur, but I imagine it was what college might have been had I taken more Political Science than Computer Science classes and joined a social club. I may or may not have drunk more Ice during a weekend retreat than I did on my last day at FiscalNote.

As I reflect on this year, I can't help but describe it as moving on from one pasture into a fall-tinted forest—excited wonder for what I'll discover inside and respect for the arduous journey of creating a path through. There will be detours and dead ends along the way, but at the turn of this decade, I'm reminded that the days are long while the decades are short. Every new day is an opportunity for progress or stagnation. I hope to consistently make the former in 2020 and focus on producing more than consuming value. Either way, the decade will fly by. Cheers to making this our breakout decade.

Last Year's Goals

  • Deeply learn one new topic Learned deeply about venture capital and met a lot of amazing people by working in it.
  • Improve Retaino
  • Publish 12 tech/product blog posts
  • Total 200kg in weightlifting

    • Hit 190kg in training PRs, up from ~177kg.
  • Consume 18 books

    • Read 7.
  • Travel to 2 new countries Visited Italy (Rome) and Mexico (Mexico City). Additionally, spent time in San Francisco, Paris, and Maine.
  • Meet 100 new people Met countless number of awesome individuals this year, 92 of whom are in my HBS section.

This Year's Goals

Instead of rigidly setting goals once at the beginning of the year, I plan to add to this list—but not remove.

  • Start a company.
  • Limit social media usage to < 1 hour day.

    • Twitter and LinkedIn are exempt because they can be productive.
  • ██ ██ ██ █████.
  • Eat a more plant-based diet.

    • Count the number of days where you eat meat. Keep it low.
  • Build a spaced repetition habit.

    • Write down what you learn.
    • Even something like this tweet summary of an article would be a good practice and good for building a Twitter following.
  • Track macronutrients, bodyweight, and body fat percentage.

    • For at least 340 days or 93% of the year.
    • Fix knee caving problem when squatting.
    • Reach 10% body fat and don't go above 15%.
    • Total 205 kg in weightlifting.
  • Read 7 books.
  • Travel to 2 new countries.
  • Spend more time with people.

    • Grab 1:1 time with people more frequently.
    • Engage in group conversations more.
  • Pick up snowboarding or skiing.

Interesting Reads

Some interesting content I read on New Year's Day—except the book which I read earlier this summer and has probably become one of my all-time favorites.