Retreat 2022 Impressions

Hey all,

For the last few days, following Schelling Point and ETHDenver 2022, we had a “team” retreat in Boulder Colorado. Each workstream was invited to send a handful of people to this event, and we did various activities together (meals, trainings, some social events).

I wanted to invite anyone who came to this event to share their impressions or learnings from the event here - so they can scale outwards.

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Here is mine in no particular order:

3 dimensional humans

Being physically present with each other has taken us from zoom avatars to being physically 3 dimensionally present with each other. For me, this was profound in many ways - it was especially intense since the pandemic has meant its been a while since we’ve been truly physically present & communed in all of the ways that entails, with our coworkers.

For me, the primary takeaway of this is a deepened sense of the humanness of each of these coworkers. I tried to take a moment to appreciate each and every one of the ppl who are here (remote participants included).

Decentralization of human organizations is hard

As opposed to a geth client, which can hold all of the same state as other geth clients, each “node” in a DAO has different skills, ambitions, time constraints, communication styles, history, etc. Because of this, its just very hard (costly)? to decentralize (make antifragile) things we work on.

A great twitter thread on this:

Protocol Launches

If we play our cards right, our ProtocolDAO/ImpactDAO sandwich in 12-24 months could have launched (and be scaling) the following protocols/DAOS:

  1. dGrants
  2. dPOPP
  3. Coordination Kit
  5. dCompass
  6. maybe 1 or 2 inchoate ideas that are not announced yet

and the DAO will have done interop agreements with several other DAOs.

One learning is that events like ETHDenver are “gravity wells” that suck product launches into them. There have been a handful of prominent launches that have happened at ETHDenver or similar events (most famously, MolochDAO launched at ETHDenver). We should consider announcing our launches at future events.


We had conversations about what it would look like to partner with other DAOs a handful of times. Aligning culture, technology, and incentives, are hard. But as the DAO to DAO ecosystem begins to develop and DAOs move from single cellular organisms to multi cellular organisms, I think it will be increasingly common.

Bottoms Up Leadership

Bottoms up leadership was in display in many many different ways in the event. I had fascinating conversations about insights across the DAOs portfolio with many people I encountered. One thing I’m mulling over is how to plan for this emergent aspect of things in everything we do.

One tangible observation: For ETHDenver, we just chose a meme of “Take the Green Pill”, made budget available for it, and several groups launched activations for it.

These are all of the activations that were launched one that schelling point had been created:

  • Song a day man
    • Emceeing / to sing a short song about every attendee
  • Around the venue
    • Robot Rasperberry Pis (Kyle/BestApe)
    • Flyers(Ben)
    • Green Pills in bowls around venue with stickers that say “Take the green pill” (Owocki)
    • Actors performing solarpunk things (Jon)
  • Swag
    • Kevins book available (400 physical copies)
    • Schelling Point / Green Pill Socks
    • Stickers
    • Hackey Sack
    • POAPAthon: We are dropping 1,000+ pog packs at ethdenver and would be great to collaborate.
    • Green Pill Pins (BestApe)
  • Pizza Lunch @ noon for 2k people (Thanks PizzaDAO)
  • Art Gallery
    • In person gallery, online auction to benefit Gitcoin
  • Virtual hackathon
  • Connected Events
  • Performers- Jugglers, Multiple acts at staggered times

In the future, how we can create schelling points around launches like this? How can we deepen our ability to be a channel where greater combinations of strength and intelligence come together.

Finding the light in the darkness

We know from the Blue Ocean post that there are two ways to explore the design space we are in:

  1. a priori: reasoning or knowledge which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience
  2. empirically: verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

I found both types of thinking on display at this event, and it was extremely rich to combine them.

People Medicine

We did an excellent training with People Medicine. The primary lessons were on for group communication:

and on coordination:

Artificial Barriers

Im increasingly of the mind that the barriers between workstreams are artificial and we need to figure out how to do cross stream collaboration better.

Perhaps this means orienting work around outcomes as much as we do skillsets. Perhaps this means encouraging an matrix org to emerge.

One example is Gitcoin Product Group and Moonshot Collective. MC takes products from 0 to 1. GPG takes them from 1 to 10. A common social, technical, cultural, process substrate for these groups could perhaps serve us well.

More broadly speaking, I think that more coordination across workstream will serve us well. That might mean common social, technical, cultural, processes. That might mean rotating people around the DAO. That maybe means coming up with token allocation methodologies that span the entire DAO (instead of within a workstream)

Solving the Meta-Problem

One common strand through many conversations is “how do we solve the meta problem?” eg not just solving a problem, but solving for the problem behind the problem.

one tangible example: the thinking on grants has evolved. instead of having a grants protocol with QF in it, what if we instead create a protocol with a deep liquidity of grants on it, and create an ecosystem on top of it where different flavors of public goods funding can compete in order to optimally allocate capital on top of it.

the “problem” here is public goods funding
the “meta-problem” is finding the optimal capital allocation tool for public goods funding.

A few more insights from todays convos

Perfect Not be the Enemy of Good

Many people at the retreat confided in me that they felt like sometimes their work needed to be perfect.

One thing I feel strongly culturally is that we can’t let perfect be the enemy of good… I’m a big fan of doing pareto optimal work where you get to 80% of the outcome with 20% of the effort.

Stable and Variable Funding

When designing for knowledge worker compensation, stable funding and variable funding are complementary. Stable funding allows contributors to pay their rent, maintain a lifestyle, and thrive. Variable funding ties their incentives to everyone elses .

Local Optima Vs Global Optima

Much of the tradeoff space in DAOs is a tradeoff between local optimals and global optima. Knowing when to descend the local optima to get to the higher global optima is an art.


This excellent post by Chris Dixon goes into this in depth: cdixon | Climbing the wrong hill

Supporting Each Other

I think we all learned this retreat that we have more support on things we are weak on that we thought. For example, I’m bad at people stuff, Kyle is good at it - so he augments me in that way. The more generalizable form of this: I’m bad at X, person Y is good at it, so they augment my workflow.

Not being afraid to ask when you dont know

I think its important to build a culture of questioning what we dont know. Where people aren’t afraid to ask. I have the privilege of being able to have a front row seat to this project for the last 5 years, and not everyone has that privilege (in fact, 99.9% of people dont). So building culture where people can show up and not know and have that be okay is how we build learning into our culture.

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Super helpful observations. Just a note that we launched/announced Aqueduct and our partnership with Tally at Schelling Point this year. Twitter thread here with links to our blog post:

We also created a press release for this and submitted it to the event in advance but did not see coverage.

Additionally, we reminded our Twitter audience of our upcoming grants round, including ecosystem & cause round participants, during the week but this was not incorporated in the event.

As several of us discussed during the event, it would be super helpful for us to be more persona / action-oriented during future events. For example, we could have cards with QR codes for each of the following that are linked to customized landing pages with contact aliases):

  1. Grant funders (our b2c, broadest audience)
  2. Grant creators
  3. Bounty hunters/hackers
  4. DAO/product/project partnerships (our B2B audience)

Finally, we have been discussing how we can improve coordination between marketing sub-teams, especially across workstreams/orgs. The current plan is for MMM to scale specialized marketing functions to facilitate this.

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more brain droppings from ppl this morning:

Different workstreams have different ways they translate goals into outcomes into work and back again. It would be neat to show & tell + cross pollinate them.

ImpactDAO Cartographry handbook could be a solid follow up to the green pill book. Green Pill book = vision. ImpactDAO Map = a list of ImpactDAOs + what impact they’re having = a tangible complement to the vision book.

There s a sense of “ok were all on this ship togoether, but where is the ship going?” coming out of the retreat and our 2022 goals. Would be cool to see roadmapping sessions done across the DAO to continue the momentum + build a syntheisis.

As opposed to a geth client, which can hold all of the same state as other geth clients, each “node” in a DAO has different skills, ambitions, time constraints, communication styles, history, etc. Because of this, its just very hard (costly)? to decentralize (make antifragile) things we work on.

A great commentary on this came out of our convos this morning. Geth has light speed sync, Humans have mirror neurons, spindle neurals, and shared culture.

The hyptothesis is that spending time togethr means syncing our nervous systems, creating learning, culture, and shared psycological safety. A place where we can be honest and tell each other the truth. The core nugget here is if we take the time to get to know each other and trust each other, it will pay massive dividends.

There was some talk about the dark side of coordination. We should explore the attributes of things like wars, cults, corporations + where they went wrong. (I have a sense that it has to do with coercion & lack of consent).

There was some great discussion on indivdiualism and collectivism - specifically the nationalist arbitrage game that corporations have been playing in order to not pay their taxes in any specific jurisdiction. If there was a global coordination substrate for funding public goods, would they contribute to that?

There was some talk about whether top down authoritarian societies create a pushing back by people reflexively or not.

We discussed the tradeoffs of framing the Gitcoin mission around public goods or human thriving. Perhaps we should revisit our mission & values every 6 months to make sure they stay current to our evolving values?

We discussed how to do benefits like workers comip and maternity leave in a DAO native era. This is not just theoretical for GitcoinDAO, and maybe interesting ideas were bubbling up.