Coping with my mother’s death by telling her a story.

My plan for my mother’s Christmas present this year was to write her a novel. Despite her failing eyesight, she devoured books: I bought her a Kindle, which allowed her to increase the font size to an almost comical level, and an iPad, which she used to listen to audiobooks. The one year I finished NaNoWriMo, she followed along every day. It wasn’t a particularly great piece of writing, but she read it with a mother’s pride. So I wanted to do that again.

Yesterday marked three weeks since her passing. Processing this new reality is going to be a…

The American banking system sucks. It’s time for open banking.

I’m convinced that one reason Americans embrace the cryptocurrency ideal of “programmable money” is that the domestic banking system is such an unmitigated disaster. Some of the features crypto enables — near-instant cross-institutional transfers with low fees, for example, or comprehensive API access to banking features like balances and transactions — are enjoyed by traditional banking customers elsewhere in the world.

When I first moved to California and needed to pay rent for the first time, I did what I’d always done: set up an automatic scheduled transfer with my bank. When the bank printed out a check and mailed…

We lost my mother, Deborah Monas, on Sunday evening. I was giving her a head rub; my sister Hannah held her hands; my dad Oscar and her brother Steve were at her feet.

How is this possible? The world doesn’t feel real.

When I was a small child, we used to pull out the sofabed in our postgraduate student flat and watch Doctor Who together under a blanket. What I would give for a TARDIS now: a way to correct the fabric of time and space. Clearly something is badly wrong with it.

I want to have something perfect to…

How a retirement vehicle from the seventies is crippling America

This piece represents my personal opinion, is not investment advice, and does not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, which was not involved in its publication.

At the time of writing, RobinHood has upset 56% of its users by delisting stocks that were being targeted by the Reddit WallStreetBets community. It feels like a slap in the face. As Nick Wing put it over on Twitter:

This feels like a good time to talk about 401(k)s.

The 401(k) was created by accident as a result of tax reform in the late seventies. Section 401(k) of the 1978 Revenue…

It’s a brand new day! Time to seize it.

Rise and shine! Are you ready to take on the day? Let’s win.

Here are 8 ways you can.

Two words: Lucky Charms.

It’s breakfast, but it’s also marshmallows. What a paradox!

Better yet, it’s a paradox you can put in your mouth. So why not do that? Who’s going to stop you? Your conscience?

We both know nothing matters anymore. All norms and semblance of regular, civilized life have long since crashed and burned. So stuff those tiny freeze dried rainbows down your welcoming gullet with delicious impunity, you human pot of gold.

Listen to the worst music you love.

Spice Girls dance party in the kitchen? B*Witched wiggle-walk around…

How I support an employee’s goals beyond their tenure at the company

Providing guidance and opportunities for professional development is an important part of being the leader of any team. Not only does it help your team excel at their work, but it’s a way to demonstrate support and make their work more meaningful for them. Everybody wins: it’s an investment in a colleague’s growth that will pay dividends for your company and is something they’ll carry with them throughout their career.

I’ve spent most of my career in relatively early-stage startups. Those companies aren’t Google: there’s no incredible stock compensation, the perks tend to be a little lower-key, and the name…

A history of not quite making bank

Talking about money is still a taboo, particularly here in the tech industry. But, inspired by Hunter Walk’s post from a few years ago about exactly this, I thought it might be interesting to talk about my experiences.

By not going with the flow, I’ve had a lot of really great experiences in tech, but I haven’t made the kind of money that others claim to. To be clear, none of it is bad! I’m not complaining in this post; I’m grateful for the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had. …

The moment that gave me back the rest of my life

When we got the DNA test back, my sister and I, sitting in the antiseptic hospital room with the genetic counselor and our tiny disposable glasses of water, we cried. Openly, right in front of her, as if she wasn’t there.

Pulmonary fibrosis scars up your lungs. One day it’s a cough you can’t seem to shake; another, maybe six months or several years down the line, you can’t breathe. There’s no cure except to get new lungs. My grandmother died of it. My aunt died of it. My cousin died of it. …

Here are some books. You must read Phil Knight’s Shoe Do.

The complete guide to crushing it poorly

Step one: Name and logo. This always comes first.

It’s got to rock, man. That’s how you know you’re cool.

My best guess: draw a circle, split it into four with an X, and put some vector art inside it. Black and white only! Colors are so 2015.

Then find a single word that sounds pretty cool when you say it out loud and also has a double meaning if you squint a bit, like “Flow” or “Horse”. This must come first.

Get some business cards printed and register a disruptive domain name. Yeah.

Drink a fine whisky while you’re doing this, like an 18-year Oban or a…

It’s been the guiding rule for my entire career. But I was applying it wrong.

When I started my career in tech, I set out a few basic rules:

  1. Don’t work for a bank.
  2. Don’t work for a weapons manufacturer.

In both cases, my underlying reasoning was to avoid working for a company that facilitates the death of vulnerable people for profit. Weapons manufacturers facilitate suffering from the colonization of nations to domestic violence. Banks facilitate suffering by perpetuating inequalities from wars to redlining. Both are prerequisites life in a capitalist society; neither is beneficial.

Over time, it’s become clear to me that these rules don’t go far enough. The entire endeavor, though well-intentioned, is…

Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.

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