Some passages I like from “The Social Animal” by David Brooks

On intelligence and form of modern world:

“We are masters at structuring our physical and social worlds so as to press complex coherent behaviors from these unruly resources. We use intelligence to structure our environment so that we can succeed with less intelligence. Our brains make the world smart so that we can be dumb in peace! Or, to look at it another way, it is the human brain plus these chunks of external scaffolding that finally constitutes the smart, rational inference engine we call mind. Look at that way, we are smart after all- but our boundaries extend further out into the world than we might have initially supposed”


Varieties of Capitalism approach by Peter Hall and David Soskice argues that:

“Different national cultures have different motivational systems, different relationships to authority and capitalism. Germany, for example, has tight interlocking institutions like work councils. It also has labor markets that make it hard to hire and fire people. These arrangement mean that Germany excels at incremental innovation – the sort of steady improvements that are common in metallurgy and manufacturing. The United States, on the other hand, has looser economic networks. It is relatively easy to hire and fire and start new businesses. The United States thus excels at radical innovation, at the sort of rapid paradigm shifts prevalent in software and technology.”

Do you agree / disagree? Sure cant explain the whole Silicon Valley phenomena, but interesting perspective, huh?


Importance of emergent systems to understand human behavior:

“Emergent systems dont rely upon a central controller. Instead, once a pattern of a interaction is established, it has a downward influence on the behavior of the components.

Emergent systems are really good at passing down customs across hundreds or thousands of generations. As Deborah Gordon of Stanford discovered, id you put ants in a large plastic tray, they will build a colony. They will also build a cemetery for dead ants, and the cemetery will be as far as possible from the colony. They will also build a garbage dump, which will be as far as possible from both the colony and the cemetery. No individual ant worked out he geometry. In fact, each individual ant may be blind to the entire structure. Instead individual ants followed local dues. Other ants adjusted to the cues of a few ants, ant pretty soon the whole colony had established a precedent of behavior.  Once this precedent has been established, thousands of generations can be born and the wisdom will endure. Once established, the precedents exert their own downward force.

The brain is an emergent system. A marriage is an emergent system. Cultures are emergent systems.

And poverty is an emergent system, too.”


To be continued…

   “Social Capital and Capital Gains in Silicon Valley”

Social capital is a term that Robert Putnam used in his book to explain how economic actors in a local region develop trust from their shared history and experience. Network of Civic Engineering is the process making economic process in those local areas easier due to trust and cooperation among players.

But when these two concepts are applied on Silicon Valley, they fail to explain what has been going on in Silicon Valley or how this region has become somewhere so special and successful. Since the notion of social capital is supposed to be coming from trust through out shared history, Silicon Valley is far from having that kind of a ‘history’. Valley is a place where strangers all around the world is coming and did not know each other or have much in common etc. Silicon Valley is not an isolated place, always open to new comers and there is nothing like a community whether new comers will be accepted or not.

Thus, we need something different from Putnam’s classic social capital description to explain Silicon Valley’s social capital. Network environment in Valley is resulted from collaborations among entrepreneurs for innovation. Collaboration among those people, institutions like universities and firms created a commercialized innovative technology production. Starting with microelectronics and semiconductors, Silicon Valley is now specialized in hardware and software computer networking.

Main social capital networks in the area are composed of productive interactions among universities, venture capital firms, law firms. Also, labor market is attractive in terms of highly qualified people from all around the world and headhunters actually look for them and Valley offers opportunities to entrepreneurs even if they fail in their start-ups.

Another issue is link between economic performance and social capital as Putnam claims that there is a strong positive correlation. Social capital is a pre-condition for a region to have good economic performance. Marshall advocates that since concentration of firms in a specific region creates proximity and therefore those firms can easily find skilled labor, supplier and know-how from each other when they become clustered. Veblen goes one step further, evolutionary perspective in economic development of firms; whether they stay same or adapt to the environment. Adaptation enables innovation and brings economic development, she argues.

Michael Piore and Charles Sabel worked on Italian districts and come up with the comparison between former mass production and new trend of small companies operating in specialized areas. They support the idea small size companies are more innovative and flexible. Also Sabel claims that trust comes from mutual confidence they no one will ever exploit other’s vulnerability. Silicon Valley has been able to build trust due to mutual confidence to each other’s performance. So, trust is open to be extended and people are welcomed even they have different ideas, roots or cultural backgrounds in Silicon Valley



Sena Sari




Sexual Harassment and Being a Woman in the Workplace

Laura Roeder is the founder and CEO of the successful social media company MeetEdgar which she grew to $4 million in her mid-20s.

Way to go, Laura. 💪 💰

But as a woman in business, her journey to grow her company wasn’t easy.

With all the stories about sexual harassment in tech and business, I wanted to hear Laura’s female point of view.

If you’re a male, my #1 goal is you’ll come away from this post and podcast episode with an appreciation of what women have to go through in business.

Below, you’ll learn 3 key things…

  1. Laura’s experiences being a woman in tech
  2. How Laura recommends men interact with women in the workplace
  3. Why she was able to start a business while other women haven’t

Plus a bunch more.

How to interact with women in the workplace

I’ve never heard of a woman that’s raised money that hasn’t had some super sketchy situations. It’s just part of how things work.

Women in tech and business face daily challenges.

We see it in the news all the time…

Laura Roeder and sexual harrassment

As a woman, Laura has to decide every time she receives a message whether the other person really wants to talk business (or whether they just want to try and flirt with her).

The most important thing that men can do is one be very straight-forward with their intentions, Laura told me.

If you want to ask someone out on a date or grab a drink, ask them… and make it clear.

But if you say something like “let’s talk shop” or “discuss business”, then everything has to be 100% business.

And if you’ve there’s a power dynamic (like you’re their boss, or an investor interested in their company) then that’s where the relationship should stay.

Whether you’re a boss or colleague, having a women colleague can be a sensitive topic — but that doesn’t mean you should avoid talking to your female colleagues out of fear.

I have a friend who organizes these informal weekend retreats for founder friends. He told me that some of the men’s wives don’t want women there.

If it’s the norm for it to be unusual or uncomfortable for men and women to talk to each other, how can women ever progress at work?

We have to get over uncomfortableness and awkwardness.

Sometimes there will be an awkward conversation about how to treat your female colleague at work, or you might not be sure what kind of complement is okay.

The only way things will improve is if we open ourselves to the vulnerability and difficult conversations.

Female entrepreneurship and starting a business

It’s not uncommon for people to ask Laura questions like:

  • “Who started your company?”
  • “Do you work for your dad?”
  • “Is this your husband’s company?”

It sucks that she faces these questions all the time. No one has ever questioned me founding Sumo.

Laura sees some the silver lining.

I know that people aren’t trying to be terrible. And now they know a young woman that started a business, maybe they’ll put that in their data set for next time.

There are more female business owners and founders than many realize: More than 9.4 million companies are owned by women.

Laura even grew MeetEdgar to $4 million ARR, which is impressive for anyone regardless of gender.

Laura believes a lot of women are interested in running smaller businesses and not interested in the fundraising game, which is why you don’t hear about them on the news.

Personally, Laura wants flexibility and freedom in her time which is why she hasn’t raised millions of dollars and become a household name.

Those certainly aren’t female-only traits. Many entrepreneurs choose to start their own businesses so they can be free from the corporate world.

Laura also believes there’s some cultural differences in the way men and women are raised to view work and their careers:

  • Often, men are raised to believe your salary and job is very important. As a male, your role at work is very important to how the world sees you
  • Often, women were raised to focus on families, avoid coming off as aggressive, no negotiating, etc.

Laura explained:

The good part about that is maybe women don’t have as much ego attached to our job title or salary, so maybe we’re not desperately searching those things as much.



Edited by: Sena Sari

Article “How I deal with sexual harassment in tech” by Gillian Morris

A few years ago, I gave a pitch at a startup event and a young man came up to me afterwards.

He was looking to transition from his work in consulting to something in ‘tech’. I’d been a consultant before learning to code and starting Hitlist. He asked if he could buy me a coffee and learn about how I’d made the transition from consultant to founder.

I proposed we grab a beer instead. I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t like taking non-business related meetings during the day. In my previous jobs it had been common to mix business and beer, so I didn’t think much of it.

We ended up having a few beers. We talked about the practical concerns of how to downsize from a consultant paycheck to startup salary, but then the conversation began to branch out.

We talked about our personal goals, our appetite for adventure, our past relationships and how we managed work/life balance.

I realized I was incredibly attracted to him. I felt like I was getting similar vibes from him, though it might have been the beer. And then he asked me if I’d ever consider bringing him onto the Hitlist team.

It wasn’t a total shock. He’d said he was interested in working in startups, I was hiring, and I’d gone into the evening thinking I’d assess him as a potential candidate. I didn’t realize that I was going to end up with a crush on him.

I suggested we meet on a Saturday afternoon to dive into our business model and figure out if there might be a role for him at Hitlist.

That Saturday, we tore apart the pitch deck I’d been using to raise money and came up with something that was, conservatively, ten times better. We got fired up about where Hitlist could go. We laughed, and I wondered whether he was flirting with me, and whether that was clouding my judgment.

I sent one of my advisors the revised pitch deck and he agreed that the young man would make a great addition to the team. I was conflicted because I knew one thing without a doubt: if I offered him a job there was no way I could explore the personal side of our relationship.

And I’m human. We got along well. He had a great butt. Could I have this guy work for me without the attraction side of things driving me nuts?

How is that even a question?

Of course I could. I’m an adult, not an animal. It would have been completely inappropriate for me to hit on someone who had come to me for professional advice and a job.

I knew that it might be distracting to employ someone who I found so appealing but the ethics of making a move on him were so black and white that there wasn’t a choice. And I wasn’t going to let a good candidate walk out the door because he happened to be attractive.

This is what gets me about all these ‘code of conduct’ pieces that have been coming out in recent days: I don’t understand why this is so hard for people to grasp.

If someone comes to you for advice, applies for a job, and/or pitches you for funding, don’t hit on that person.

Am I saying that workplace romances can never happen? No, but if you’re the person in a position of authority, you don’t initiate them, full stop.

If your subordinate makes a move on you, you two can discuss the ramifications like adults and decide whether you want to have a romantic relationship (or be friends with benefits, whatever).

That discussion should happen when you both have clear judgment, i.e. not at 3am at a conference when either or both of you have had alcohol. And that expression of interest from your subordinate should be crystal clear: an invitation to grab a beer is not a date unless he or she explicitly says it is.

In the words Anjali Kumar, founding general counsel at Warby Parker, former senior counsel at Google, and current angel investor:

Edited by: Sena Sarıhasan