When remote work isn't an option
I heard from a lot of you about my signing the "Work Remotely Forever" pledge
Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague). Cartoon by the great Matt Davies (@matttdavies), Pulitzer-winning cartoonist for Newsday.
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Last week, I wrote about remote work and the opportunities it affords for those lucky enough to be able to do it. We received so many thoughtful responses to the Work Remotely Forever pledge, and I want to highlight one this week.
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO of the wondrous Norman Rockwell Museum, wrote to me to remind me of all the people who simply cannot work from home at least most of the time. From her note:
I felt compelled to reflect that your column below ignores entire swaths of industries where showing up in-person is essential – from museum visits, to hospital emergency rooms and maternity wards, grocery stores, schools, garbage collection, policing, firefighting, emergency services, and more.
It seems that the #workremotelyforever pledge could reflect more balance and acknowledgement that working from home is a privilege for many, while showing up every day to serve others is a measure of devoted service to fellow humans required of many jobs in service to each other that create a civil society.
As a CEO who has worked tirelessly to create in person joy for so many during COVID through visits to the Museum, I find a pledge like this is quite narrow, and elitist in the extreme, though I recognize the generational turning in work environment flexibility, and have created that for those whose work can be done well from anywhere.
There is a middle ground somewhere, and perhaps the pledge could acknowledge the selflessness and sacrifice of those who serve their fellow citizens in person.
I couldn’t agree more. And we need always acknowledge how lucky some of us are to be working from home or building a business (as I have done) during the pandemic. I always salute the frontline workers, the medical staff, the restaurant workers who have made it possible for the rest of us to survive and thrive while they risk it all.
[Having been on multiple airplanes last week, I am especially upset for the flight attendants who have had to deal with passenger misbehavior (much of it mask-related) during the crisis. The first-class passenger who punched an American Airlines flight attendant for accidentally bumping into him should never fly on any airline again. This may not be why industry-wide no-fly lists were invented, but this is a perfect use case.]
Of course, working from home is something available to a limited amount of people, but it’s still 100s of millions of people globally. I think changing that language to something more encompassing is possible but would diminish the directness of the pledge.
Fundamentally, it comes down to control, and I think that’s the underlying message I take from Laurie’s note. The Great Resignation is largely about taking our lives back from the throes of work, and, although some people may not be able to work from home, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve greater control of the “life” side of work-life balance (or “work-life harmony,” in the words of Jill Geisler @JillGeisler).
In the case of the arts, I’m especially cognizant of the importance of the physical, real-world experience. My time at The Met really showed me the power of the arts in tactile form — there are just some things that need to be seen in person. See my #3MetYears hashtag for scores of posts on just this topic.
Columbia Journalism @columbiajourn#cjs93 @sree on making your own luck & crowdsourcing his future https://t.co/vyTCNEHrwF @cjr
Laurie speaks to that in her note. It continues (eds: edited slightly for clarity):
We greatly deepened at the Rockwell Museum our digital commitment to our virtual offerings, which had grown wonderfully over the years and are an essential channel of our delivery of artistic experiences at the Museum. And we have accommodated a hybrid remote work opportunity for those whose jobs permit it.
One side effect of the last couple of years is that it accelerated thinking about, and action in, the digital space within organizations that needed to make that push. Museums have done well to accommodate a digital-only audience, but it’s just not the same. You need to be in the space, with other people, in exhibitions curated by people who know how to move you, with human guides answering even the most-complicated questions — people make the difference.
This week, I was up at 12:30 am ET and 4 am ET to present remotely at a museum conference in Seoul, hosted by the National Folk Museum of Korea. I would have preferred to be in Seoul, of course, but grateful for the no-flight-needed ability to participate. As a remote participant, it didn’t feel like a conference - with all you gain and learn with the in-person gatherings; it felt like the glorified Zoom call it was. I can’t wait till it’s safe to be at my first in-person conference.
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A hearty welcome to all our new subscribers. We are continuing our year-long partnership with our friends at Armory Square Ventures. Managing Partner Somak Chattopadhyay (@somakc), Partner Pia Sawhney (@pia_sawhney) and their team are funding startups in places overlooked by other funders. They are a new sponsor of the newsletter and we will be bringing you their messaging each week. Read more about them below (they’re hiring!).
It’s why we invest.
This week, we recognize portfolio company RealEats for its dedication and commitment to raising up the community of the Finger Lakes.
RealEats is based in Geneva, New York, and just closed its $16 million Series A round. Also part of the round were Hamilton Lane (NASDAQ: HLNE) on behalf of New York State Common Retirement Fund, GNC, Excell Partners, Inc. and Cornell University. The company makes it simple for busy families to enjoy healthy, organic, fresh food sourced locally from the region. RealEats meals can be prepared in minutes and packages reach subscribers across the country.
Read about the round here and here.
Congratulations to the RealEats team, CEO Dan Wise, President Erik Battes and CFO Rebecca Holderread!
Your friends at Armory Square Ventures
Sometimes, the headlines really do speak for themselves. We all know this is happening, many of us are in positions to change it, and yet…endemic, systematic racism persists.
Tech Tip: Dymo’s New Thermal Printers Giveth and Taketh Away
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
Sometimes you just have to take the bad news with the good.
Dymo recently unveiled three new thermal printers: the LabelWriter 550, LabelWriter 550 Turbo (faster and adds network connectivity) and LabelWriter 5XL (supports wider labels plus network connectivity).
Dymo has a long history of making reliable thermal printers and its popular LabelWriters can be found in countless homes and businesses. The best feature about thermal printers is that they don’t require ink, making them useful for package labels, event ID badges and other purposes.
The good news is that the new LabelWriters come with a nifty new feature: automatic label detection. Insert a roll of Dymo labels and they will not only detect the shape and size of the labels, but they will also keep count of what’s left. Older LabelWriters require users to manually set up label sizes with software.
However, while adding the label-detection feature, Dymo took something away: The ability to use labels other than its own. Not only is this bad news for those with stocks of generic third-party labels—which work just fine with older LabelWriters—but the new printers won’t work with older Dymo labels either. Dymo’s new LabelWriter labels have an RFID (radio frequency ID) chip in their paper cores, which alerts the new printers to the type and size of the labels installed.
Dymo’s website has accumulated a handful of bad reviews due to the label limitation. One noted that many veterinary clinics have been printing third-party prescription labels with LabelWriters for years but won’t be able to do so with the new units since Dymo doesn’t make labels in the required size or with the required preprinted “keep out of children’s reach” warning.
A posted response from Dymo Consumer Care noted that the label limitation “…is clearly listed on both the packaging and the product listing itself.” Another response to a different bad review noted that the Dymo-label-only feature “…emerged from needs of our consumers, who have been experiencing various issues with third party labels.”
This is not the first time a chip has come between a tech company and its customers. Lexmark once made consumer inkjet printers which worked only with Lexmark ink cartridges with embedded proprietary chips. Third-party or refilled Lexmark cartridges wouldn’t work. The policy drew the ire of some consumers and hurt the company’s market share until it exited the inkjet printer market in 2012.
For those with failing thermal printers and stocks of generic or old Dymo labels, the good news for the moment is that Dymo’s older LabelWriter 450 series printers, which work with generic and old Dymo labels just fine, are still available. The bad news, at least for Dymo, is that there are also plenty of thermal printer alternatives from competing companies like Epson, Brother and Seiko Instruments.
A word from our friends at India Sweets And Spices
After debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Geeta Malik’s acclaimed new film INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES will release in US cinemas on November 19, 2021. This award-winning film stars Sophia Ali, Manisha Koirala, Adil Hussain, Rish Shah, Deepti Gupta, Ved Sapru, and Anita Kalathara. Check out the new trailer!
I had Susanne Althoff, author of "Launching While Female: Smashing the System that Holds Women Entrepreneurs Back," on my global show to discuss the gender gap in entrepreneurship and a road map for a more inclusive and economically successful future for us all.
Odds & Ends
🗞 TUNE IN: We read aloud from a great newspaper every Sunday 8:30-10 am ET or anytime you can catch it after. Today our #SunTimesReadalong was w/ Maureen O’Donnell, obits writer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Recent #NYTReadalong guests: NYT Book Review Deputy Editor Tina Jordan; distinguished journalist Terence Smith. The NYTReadalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Readalong is followed, on most Sundays at 11 am-noon ET, by a medical show I’m co-executive producing with surgeons Sujana Chandrasekhar, M.D. (@DrSujanaENT), and Marina Kurian, M.D. (@MarinaKurian), called She’s On Call (watch live or later). Here’s the Apple Podcasts version.
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