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

Shoes Matter Most

In high school and college, I ran hundreds of miles every month. Whether competing or staying healthy, running can take a toll on the body. From back pain to hip issues, knee damage to shin splints, for every healthy runner there are two injured ones. Early on, a coach shared the importance of footwear. He was constantly inspecting our shoes and routinely pushing us to replace them. Years later an orthopedist discussed the correlation between the feet and the rest of the body. He made a compelling that suggests most physical ailments we experience can be attributed to our footwear. Most major problems with lower back, hips, knees, shins, and arches… all from our shoes. The problem originates from how we shop for shoes. Since we can’t log hundreds of miles before making a purchase, we stride to the end of the aisle in store. If they get delivered to…

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

Spilling Secrets

Over the years I’ve found myself defaulting to complete transparency. It’s helped me develop a feeling of authenticity and a deeper sense of generosity. If I have a perspective, experience, or behavior someone else might benefit, it feels selfish to stay quiet. This openness and vulnerability intensified around the 5 year mark in our business. Following a near catastrophic financial issue for the business, I found myself scrambling. It was a desperate attempt at survival that led me to reach out to mentors, friends, and even strangers. The support and encouragement was humbling and invaluable. In turn, I’ve sought to do likewise. Rather than limiting it to those bold enough to ask, I began writing more and sharing it with those who might not feel comfortable reaching out. Throughout this season, I also felt a prompt to express gratitude to those who had helped us along the way. Our business has…

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

Building a Marketplace

Over the years, we’ve built plenty of marketplace solutions. Unlike feature based or business management software, the value of the technology within marketplace software is in the relationship that is facilitates. The most common formation is a two-sided market place. Two-sided marketplaces connect a seller and a buyer. Examples we’ve build include connecting law firms with project attorneys, job seekers with employers, riders with drivers, or even brides with wedding vendors. Two audiences exist and the software becomes the match maker. Their interests are align, they just need to be connected. Two-sided Complexity Two-sided markets have inherent complexities. A common complexity is around value. Once the match is formed, what keeps the customer and vendor within the system? Airbnb, for instance, matches renters with home owners. Since the behavior involves real world interaction, the two parties could conduct business offline in future interactions. It becomes the goal of the marketplace to…

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

Continuous Design

A few months into the both pregnancies, one thing was certain: we’re having ramen for dinner. I could suggest other options but unless it involved noodles and a broth, any debate was futile. Through past experiences, I understand my wife’s tastes, preferences, and willingness to deviate from the norm. Now, imagine you and I are meeting for dinner. It’ll be our first in person interaction and we have only sent a few emails back and forth. Generously, you allow me to pick the restaurant. Working off limited knowledge, I try to account for service, taste, environment, accessibility, and dietary restrictions. I’ll find something acceptable but it’s unlikely to perfectly match your expectations. When comparing my wife’s ramen and the latter one-off dinner, there is no question whose expectations will be best met. Learning the nuance of expectation takes time. It involves developing understanding, credibility, and trust. From Dinner to Design…

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

Entry Level Engineers Cutting Their Teeth

I found myself drawing a distinction between code school graduates and Junior Engineers. It’s not to diminish the effort or credibility of code school. It is to elevate the importance of real world experience. Deploying to production software is key to the Junior Engineer distinction. Beyond a brochure site or public facing test app, a Junior Engineer needs time spent on a system with daily active users. Realizing it’s often hard to get the opportunity to work in a live environment, our apprenticeship is designed for Entry Level Engineers. What do you look for in an apprentice? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we have found patterns that define solid apprenticeship candidates. Proactive learner. Pursue a deeper understanding rather than waiting to be tasked it. Action oriented. A default to ‘jumping right in’ rather than waiting for complete clarity. Inquisitive. The ability to ask good questions and digest…

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

Aligning Software Pricing and Value

Not everything is worth a subscription. We all know what it’s like to start using a software product only to see the paid plan is $20 per month. It’s one small feature we use but the cost is twice what I pay for Netflix. It doesn’t feel worth it. The value of the tool and what it costs are misaligned. The Flip Side While some technology feels overpriced, there are others than feel like a deal. At polar notion, we spend over $300 a month for Slack. Our team and clients use Slack as a continual communication tool. It facilitates all conversations. Slack saves us hundreds of hours combing through emails and tens of thousands of dollars in efficiency. We pay a lot for Slack, but we get more than we pay. The Tension How do we reconcile this when building technology? Someone has to pay for it to get built.…

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

Clarifying Company Values at Polar Notion

As a company grows and evolves, values become indispensable in guiding decisions. I’ve found few things to be more impactful in facilitating a healthy culture. Values govern how we operate. They summarize what matters most. Sometimes however, it’s helpful to dive a bit deeper into defining what they actually mean to us. While values like ‘passion’ and ‘innovation’ can be telling, they fall on deaf ears without context, explanation, and examples. We pursue excellence, not perfection. Rather than pushing for perfection, which is illusive, we pursue excellence. For us, excellence is exemplified in 4 ways. We produce quality products. Is the work we’re doing quality in the eyes of our clients and our peers? Not everyone has to ‘get it’, but our attention to detail and thoughtfulness should be evident. Standards change over time but we want to set the bar ever higher. A great example is our Client Handbook. It’s…

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

Swing, Swing, Swing

There is a restaurant down the road from our office. We’ve eaten their quite often but they always manage to get our order wrong. If I had to guess, they get it right about 30% of the time. It’s abysmal. It’s low on our list of lunch places. In baseball, they have a name for players who only get their job right 30% of the time: Hall of Famers. That’s right, the best players in the world hit the ball less than half of the time. Over the course of their career, a baseball player will strike out thousands of times. Taking swings Conversations about failure are everywhere. They cover the importance of failure, trying things that might not work, doing things that don’t scale, moving fast while breaking things, and so much more. Almost as popular are counter points about quality, excellence, and seamless experiences. Witnessing this trend, it’s clear they aren’t…

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

Start Smaller

In 2016, we built a streamlined recruiter management system. It allowed candidates to connect via LinkedIn, recruiters to post jobs, and employers to filter prospects. The interface was clean and polished. The value was well defined and benefits were obvious. For months prior, the client also had been working to build an email list. Every week a newsletter would be sent to job-seekers with top jobs in the industry. Employers would also receive an email with top candidates. It was basic and simple. Engagement In the end, their email list was 30x more effective at connecting people to jobs. It wasn’t much, but it worked. It wasn’t sexy, but apparently it didn’t have to be. When he approached investors, they couldn’t reconcile investing in an app when the traditional email was working well. “Comeback when you have a plan that capitalizes on the effectiveness of that email list.” The technology…

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

Estimating Completion via Hill Charts

In high school, I ventured out with two friends to hike on the Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The plan was to hike for 5 days, covering about 75 miles. The distance would have covered the entire section within Georgia. On Day 3 a massive mountain was expected to be the highlight of the trip. Looking at the map and using some rough calculations, I estimated we would eat lunch atop the mountain in a few hours. We’d heard from others that it was one of the state’s best views. As you might guess, I was wrong. Ascending the mountain took twice as long as expected. Conditions were rough and visibility was poor. We were exhausted by the time we reached the top and our lunch was devoured hours before. A thick fog left us with mere inches of visibility. No view and no highlight. From the…

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