Centering on Warm Glows

Startups are hard.

Learning while remaining committed to a vision. Listening while executing. Leading while uncertain.

There are days when you just put on a good smile and push through. And I think we all have our fair share of these right now.

But I have an unfair advantage over other startup founders looking for meaning when the tough need to get going.

Every day, right into my email inbox, I get alerts of students and alumni connecting (via Protopia) for career advice, job searches, academic guidance. Hundreds of them every day. Humans yearning to connect with their tribe.

I don’t read all of them because there are simply too many. Rather I save them with a “Warm Glow” tag and pull them up when I want to see how we’re helping (and how to improve our product to do more of it). Or when I need to remember WHY we do what we do.

Sometimes I share these “sparks” (anonymized, of course) in our internal Slack so that all of us can celebrate our impact and be reminded of our “Raison d’être.”

Today I spotted one at a customer institution that really struck a chord with me and the team. Paraphrasing:

A law graduate studying for the upcoming bar exam has fallen behind as she juggles intense preparation with the demands of a severe illness and child care. Burned out, she wonders whether she should defer or do the best that she can. She’s asked friends and family, and needs objective advice.

It resonated with me not only because I remember my partner studying for the bar exam with our young kids (I pinch myself every day we’re married), but also because it is really hard to ask that question, to admit that you’re struggling.

Seeing her turn to a Protopia-powered alumni community to be connected with someone who can assist and cares is super rewarding. Especially when it is urgent in so many ways.

But that rewarding Warm Glow is of course not just for us. It is also for the alumni team that rallied behind this graduate today and connected her to the law school’s leadership team for support. And gave them an important reminder of their “Raison d’être.”


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