Even though it wasn’t all so bad.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” — Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst

2020. Oof.

The year doesn’t need another trite recap of world events, and that is not what you will find here. If you somehow got to this page looking for one, read Dave Barry, watch Death to 2020, binge the Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self series, or just watch the trailer. …

There is no other way to say it: the world was flipped on its head during Q1. Everywhere. As far as I’ve seen, there are very few industries or positions that weren’t meaningfully upended both directly by COVID-19 (shelter-in-place orders, supply chain issues, etc) or by the ensuing economic fall-out (plummeting sales).

This essay will attempt to provide some concrete, tactical advice based on what I’ve seen work and not work managing teams through this crisis, and it draws on both personal experience at Occipital (leading Canvas) as well as advice I’ve seen from others that has resonated with me…

The long, meandering, and true story of an American’s first experience with Banya

Prior to December 19, 2017, the entirety of my context on the practice known as “Banya” came from the following calendar invite a few weeks ahead of my trip to Ukraine:

Spoiler: the swimming shorts were false advertising.

This remained my only context as I pulled up to a small house tucked within a forest a few kilometers from the Ukrainian-Russian border. …

Rain, flares, and finally, a car flipped on its side.

Figures flashing in front of headlights, dancing shadows cast on the cliffs

A pandemonium made sluggish by the pounding storm.

Howl — howl is the only word to describe the sound of that night.

Screeching, cackling, wailing…

No, howl — howling was the wind, Mother Nature’s wild, exasperated warning:

“You are not welcome.

You do not belong here.”

Fighting against the wind, I thrust open the door and heard its voice:


The wind cracked like a whip, dumping water as if it were being hurled sideways from…

The following was written for an event hosted by Edmund Zagorin called “Make It Look Like An Accident.” You bring a piece of writing, and then hand it to someone else to edit it however they please, and then they read it aloud. However, I misunderstood and thought “make it look like an accident” was the writing prompt.

This is the original, pre-edited piece I brought to the event — derived from entirely true events, except for the main character, whose sentience is wholly and utterly made up.

“It’s been a good run, Franco,” I whispered as I patted the…

Over the past three years, my dad has been teetering on the edge between “kidney issues” and end-stage renal disease. Unfortunately, more recently, the scales have shifted in the wrong direction, and last year, we got the news: he needs a kidney transplant. And despite several friends and relatives being tested, we’ve yet to find a suitable direct donor.

My dad doesn’t like to talk about it — ironic, considering how much he likes to talk!—so we’re sharing his story everywhere that we can, hoping to connect with absolutely anyone that’s ever considered (or would consider) donating. As strange as…

On October 8, I sent the following email, finally closing a long chapter of my life to date: Fetchnotes, the startup that defined my early 20’s.

Hi everyone,

Earlier this year, you probably received a pretty jarring email: a notice that Fetchnotes would be shutting down in only 10 days. The email was sent by the product’s 2015 acquirer, which had decided to pivot into customer communication software.

A few of us — members of the founding team and a longtime user — sprang into action. We weren’t going to let something we had worked so hard on be shut…

Over the holidays last year, I had a chance to spend a couple weeks driving around an Italian island called Sardinia. On a pit-stop on my way back to the US, I witnessed a chain of events that I had a really hard time getting out of my mind. Aside from a few rounds of pre-publish editing/formatting, I wrote this on my phone during the hour-long bus ride to the city.

While walking along the taxi lane in front of the Verona airport, I turned back to look for a transit sign or possible directions. Instead, my gaze locked on…

Last week, I received this email from “The Fetchnotes Team.”

Shut-down notice from Drift

I started “The Fetchnotes Team” back in 2011, when it was just an SMS prototype Chase Lee helped me make for ENGR 490 at the University of Michigan. Between 2011 and its acquisition by Drift in 2015, I poured my heart into Fetchnotes and the company that was built to support it. In no uncertain terms, this email was everything I was trying to avoid when we decided to sell. I did not write it, nor did I even know about Drift’s plan until it went out to the entire…

An old post from my time as a columnist at The Michigan Daily (published January 18, 2010) being consolidated on Medium. It’s not my best piece of writing, but it will always be special to me because it was the first time I had a chance to make a point by telling other people’s stories, rather than simple argumentation. Plus, it’s how I got to know all the bar owners in Ann Arbor, ultimately leading to my completion of the South U Trifecta (getting a free tshirt from The Blue Leprechaun, The Brown Jug, and Good Time Charley’s)!

“Why do…

Alex Schiff

Bringing spatial computing to everyday life @Occipital. Prior: co-founder @Fetchnotes, VP @Benzinga, and chief opinionator @michigandaily. Go Blue!

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