Hey,

I am Morgan Lopes. My days are spent building businesses where I can color outside the lines of entrepreneurship, technology, and social impact.

If you're looking for thoughts and experiences within business ownershipentrepreneurshipleadershipparenthoodsoftware engineeringstartups, and things of the like, welcome.

Godspeed.


Recent Posts

CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Bringing Humanity Back to Email

A more productive and engaged version of you. While exchanging emails with Adam Walker, a fellow Atlanta entrepreneur and friend, I noticed a message on the footer of his emails. Adam’s message circa 2017: Having batched email communication for years, this seemed like a thoughtful solution to the fervent-mailers who expect a reply within hours or minutes. If nothing else, it properly sets expectations and outlines personal rules of engagement. As I began crafting my own closing postscript, it seemed appropriate to touch on another topic I’m passionate about. While productivity is certainly a driving factor in batching my emails, amplifying the value of real human interactions surpasses mere efficiency. Limiting exposure to email allows you to me more present in daily life. What kind of message does it send to someone across the table, in person, when you keep checking your phone? How about the disruptive nature of constant…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Annual Reflection Framework

Another year is gone in a blink. Over half a million minutes of life lived. Taking time reflect on the status of key areas can help ensure the past was well spent and the future is more impactful. Borrowing from the techniques of others, the most prominent being the 4 Burner Theory*, I put together an exercise for myself to frame this valuable reflection. I put aside about 3 hours and worked through each section. Thoughts, ideas, and insights began pouring out. The goal is not a resulting task list for the next year. The purpose is to frame yourself around what matters most. Each year should involve more of what matters and less of what doesn’t. It’s about thoughtful action, not perfection. Also, I will not be publishing my own reflections. The ratings and insights are (and should be) convicting and highly personal. It’s unrealistic to think a public audience…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Effective Leadership Teams

Over the last few years, I’ve watched first-hand as two teams transition out of reactive decision making and into more proactive choices. In both cases, defined and organized leadership teams are at the center. Regularly confronting organizational patterns and trends becomes a gateway to improved performance. It also provides increased alignment around company vision, values, and behaviors. Beyond traditional c-level leadership, interdisciplinary leadership teams can also be highly impactful. Take Business Operations for instance. Operations is one part of the organization’s needs, but a growing company will eventually require more specialization.  Selecting key members within operations will allow for increased buy-in and deeper focus are the vital part of the organization. In a recent session with our Operations team at Polar Notion, we distilled the form and function into the following concepts. The Purpose We should explore current operational pains, in order to produce lasting organizational gains. The discussion time…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Big Meetings and Better Choices

There are few things more costly than large, group meetings. Whether we realize it or not, they are the greatest expense of a business. More than salaries, benefits, or a physical building. More than utilities, inventory, benefits, or a physical building. They may be needed, but it’s a tall order to make sure they are worth it. They disrupt the day, occupy limited time, and become bottlenecks to productivity. If Deep Work is where we experience a state of flow and professional achievement, large meetings usually impede that progress. Here are some strategies to build better meetings. Choose smaller blocks. There are plenty of cases where large meetings are needed. Whose says they have to be long? Many businesses default to one hour block. Unfortunately, stuff expands to the space you give it. How different might a meeting flow if everyone knew there was only 30 minutes? 15 minutes? There is…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Work Life Harmony

The notion of work-life-balance is nonsense. It implies that our work lives and personal lives are disjointed and function in constant opposition to each other. It was crafted as a protective counterbalance for people oppressed by their employers. The two are not siloed. You can not prevent your work life from invading your personal life any more than you can stop your personal life from pushing against your work life. They are connected. You are connected. I prefer the notion of work-life-harmony. In an ideal setting, they collaborate rather than compete. Work should be an outlet for us to express our personality and creativity. It should be the catalyst for our best work, not a barrier to our natural desires. This allows us to find opportunities for overlap and pursue alignment. Rather than focusing on keeping score, we focus on bringing our best self. Actionable Insights Practically speaking, our full…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

One Key Metric

“How should I measure my improvement?”   It’s a common question I receive from Apprentice and Junior Engineers. For those focused on growth, they often search for a metric to track their improvement over time.    How will I be graded? What should I optimize for order to improve? How do I know I’m improving fast enough?   In software, ‘number of code commits’ and ‘lines of code written’ seems obvious. for early stage developers. It’s trackable and big numbers give the impression of progress. Unfortunately, code quality is not measured in quantity and volume. In fact, there is often an inverse correlation.   The question originates from a positive attitude, but the answer is complex and past attempts at oversimplifying have proven disastrous. There are stories of incentivizing engineers by ‘bugs found’, but that sparks the temptation to neglect proper troubleshooting up front. Incentivize overly-concise code and you may…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Values First, Always

In 2016, the team at Polar Notion interviewed a passionate and polished software engineer. Fresh out of code school, she seemed focused, articulate, and eager to gain experience in the industry. The technical interview was organized and deliberate. From the first introduction we remarked on her poise and confidence. From twenty applicants, we had narrowed the list down to just two candidates. Geraldine Galue was one of them. Our team suspected Geraldine would thrive in any role. She was a teachers assistant after graduation, maintained a nonprofit’s website, and even landed a spotlight in the local startup news. Unfortunately, the other candidate possessed more of the requisite experience. With much reservation, we declined Geraldine’s application. This was in February of 2016. New Opportunities By fall of that year, a lot changed. Polar Notion was moving full steam ahead, but I had also taken on a CTO position at New Story. A…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Saturday Mornings

The world is quiet on Saturday morning. My phone doesn’t ring. New emails are not piling into my inbox. The time is all mine. While somewhat overstated, I seem to do 2-3 days worth of work within a few hours. The day is optimized for heads down, distraction free output. I’m afforded hours of deep work. Why am I working on a Saturday? These days, my schedule is splintered by messages, meetings, and management. I share my time with two business. This allows our family to maintain our standard of living, my wife to stay at home each day with our girls, and my mind to fully leverage it’s passions and interests. The diverse contexts allows me to compress decades of experience into just a few years. I realize it won’t last forever, but I find the work invigorating and impactful. Balancing Polar Notion and New Story, its likely someone…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Data is Feedback

The value of data will vary depending on stage of the business. Regardless of ones season of business, the numbers matter. They will likely be different, but tracking key information is no less important. Most often, it’s a few numbers that impact an organization’s performance.   For young businesses, it’s hard to know what matters since change is constant. There is a bent to focus on things that are easy tracked, such as Google Analytics, revenue, or expenses. However, there is more pointed information that can have a greater impact on the business.   At a high level, the data of the business fits into four buckets: Sales Operations Financial Product/Service Data Sales Sales is the front door of the business and focuses on prospects and new business. A few numbers can determine the health of ones sales pipeline. Also, the right numbers can provide insight into the future business…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Making Big Decisions

The discipline of big decision making As we’re presented with important decisions, it’s easy to procrastinate or become immobilized. Over time, the stakes get higher and our decisions affect more people. To withstand the pressure of major decisions and keep moving forward, I’ve outlined habits I revert back to when big decisions arise. Rest Before leaving corporate life to raise our kids, my wife was wrestling with a decision for months. At the time, she was not sleeping well. The workload was causing her to neglect her health too. Recognizing the need for a change though feeling too overwhelmed to decide, we scheduled a day or so away at the spa. No work, agenda, or responsibilities she was free to rest up, relax, and recover. Before returning home less than 48 hours later, she knew what she had to do. Don’t make big decisions when you’re off your game. Being clear…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Weekly Rituals

Over the years, I’ve developed a series of daily, weekly, and monthly rituals designed to keep me focused and moving forward. Rather than allowing each day to dictate my priorities, these rituals provide a cadence of thoughtful progress. In recent conversations with entreprenuers and business leaders, some of my weekly rituals have been of particular interest. Pre-week Before the momentum of a week, the following actions help things stay within my control. Cancel Priorities are constantly evolving. Coincidentally, some meetings are scheduled weeks and months in advance. Before blindly attending, evaluate it’s relevance and have the courage to cancel if it’s no longer necessary. Not only does this free up precious time, but it also respects the time of other attendees as well. A business meetings without written agendas should be prime candidates. “Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it…

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