5 min read

beyond the break room

Bex, Helen and Wyatt,

my esteemed collaborators individually you are talented in ways that are as valuable as they are inventive. and you are, beyond that, good people.

together we built, as i see it, something that could not have been more true in its purpose nor more delightful in its process this valentine’s day. the public may never know what it took for us to deliver, only feel the results of our labor in their inboxes, mailboxes and hearts.

this letter i write to you now is unedited and let that be taken not as a measure of haste, a method of written genuine-ity.

i left our little break room, such as it was, hosted by imessage, the other night after a feeling of uncertainty overcame me. my doubts of the future of heart bottoms rang loud in my mind. “will we continue on?” “will the efforts be worth it?” “do i want to work with this team?” “will there be time and resources on our parts and desire and value on the public’s?” those doubts persist.

we began on the topic of money and as i read and wrote in that break room it became clear to me how clouded the conversation was becoming by more and more chatter. evident to me, all of us want to be polite to each other and reconcile the various inconsistencies in our spending with interpretations of agreed division. these are conversations that i treat with ease among friends, which we all are.  these are conversations i take with care with professionals, which we all are. and in between those two definitions, friends and professionals, there is a tension that is real and invisible until given light. so with those words i arrive at disclosures of my character.

i am an entrepreneur. my recent sale of my company was the last conversation in a years-long dialogue with my partners. i also am currently the part owner, chief executive officer, and founder of a new company for fitness software. finally, i am the sole owner of a company that serves as my vehicle for hosting creativity in the world. for heart bottoms the last company is the one that incurred the expenses for all the tech involved and the expense of building the professional partnership with mintgate. it is also the one that billed mintgate for the revenue made possible by the tech. that company has an accounting firm that provides monthly bookkeeping services and jodi, an admin who provides management of the bookkeepers along with many other services that enable my focus on invention. this infrastructure is new and evolving, causing this retroactive commentary rather than my providing a clear, concise, and packaged upfront disclosure. now i have explained who i am as a way to bring forward some of my past experiences with foundation.

the first, i started a partnership, upstate interactive llc, with three other software professionals in a legal entity that shares the losses and gains at predetermined proportions. for example, a partner having a child would be afforded great latitude in getting his work done when having a child with no specific policy on paternity leave. he brought in less revenue for a time and during that time he received his predetermined share of the revenue all the same. and when another partner needed a new computer, buying a machine twice the price of all other partners, all partners bore that cost proportional to the agreement’s states amounts. in times when partners incurred expenses on their own debit cards and from their own bank accounts they submitted those expenses to the company to be reimbursed at a later date equal in the amount of the expense. in the beginning, before the company was profitable, it meant partners waiting for reimbursement for undetermined amounts of time.

the second and final experience i’ll share is a hackathon, three of us worked a software project over a weekend and there was some prize to be won. it was a single oculus rift. we all put in efforts informally for the joy of the activity. when it came down to dividing an indivisible prize, we informally found a way to share it for a month until letting it rest at one home.

an essential difference between the two is formal vs tacit agreements. in the first, all that gain and loss sharing occurred only after written agreement. in the second, that prize sharing was decided after it was won.

my thoughts on heart bottoms have been open to possibilities of upside. it is the entrepreneurial spirit of my being that imbues my involvement in creative projects. and my thoughts have also been limiting commitment to valentine’s day. as in, take valentine’s day as the moment in time to determine my future involvement depending on the outcome of this first project.

and we are now at that point. in the conversation in our break room there were ideas floated around totaling up and settling up with money. prior to the fact the only discussion on money i had was with wyatt to express a willingness to share what comes in equal shares. nothing beyond that. in practice what came was a net loss. helen gave comment about splitting the projects in two for reasons that there were no pre-approved spending decisions. i suggested inclusion of expense for flight to denver in calculation of costs. bex remained silent. wyatt shared an idea about splitting costs to the exclusion of travel. in all of that, there is a decided lack of congruity that nonetheless has led me to a conclusion. 'm putting forward that i will not share in the losses of the print project and not include travel expense to denver in calculations for the digital project. of the net gain on tech i will share the money equally in the amount previously discussed. this closely relates for me with the informal nature of a hackathon.

there is a potential future for this project. mintgate wants to have future prints of heart bottoms cards and seek grant funding for bigger projects. that is a tantalizing opportunity, i both fear and desire it. i have not decided whether i want to be a part of it.

all the same, i will suggest a possible road forward for heart bottoms that draws on my first experience: coming to agreement on terms of partnership. in the beginning an agreement would allow for all the expenses to-date to be reconciled as a single project and for all individuals to be reimbursed for expenses they have incurred at a time when the partnership is profitable. simply, whenever there are profits the partnership begins paying back the expenses it took to get there over time including those incurred to make valentines day a success. there’s a lot to be gained in partnership when it comes to dealing with the public as well. from specialized and clear team roles to increased focused on creativity by delegating routine tasks, there are a breadth of ways the public would reap the rewards of our partnership.  it is a simple path to go down and we’d keep it as simple as possible for the duration.

what about commitments? not a single action has obligated us to each other at this time. that said, commitments breed obligations. if we went ahead with partnership it would mean defining those terms clearly.

it was a labor for us all to get this far as the heart bottoms team. for me, nights and weekends and no small amount of anger staring at cold dead computer screens. in the end, we got to the end successfully and that effort i put out was worth it to me in service to spreading love. more than spreading love to the public, i feel rewarded by the unintended side effects of making friends with you. and that’s the crux of collaboration. no matter which way we go, we’ll go forward better for having met each other.

esteemed collaborators and friends, thank you for having me on the team.