Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Covid Made Me Do It: Life, Love & Work

Purpose. The Only Road 2020’s Dumpster Fires Led Us To and Why!

By good rights I ought not to have so much
Put on me, but there seems no other way.
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it. 55
He says the best way out is always through.

This post has been a long time coming… But I’d like to talk about three significant updates in my life, real quick, as yet another exciting week looms ahead, while an “atmospheric river ” of torrential rains batter the Bay, but my thoughts remain fixed on words I have to say:

  1. Work: I recently started as Head of Brand & Community at Spero Ventures
  2. Love: Got engaged
  3. Life: Got better at finding my community; pursuing meaning.

“You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.” — Albert Einstein

But more importantly, this is about a few good lessons learned in the eye of the storm while everything spun around. In every aspect above, there was something meaningful I learned, which might dovetail with your experience.

One crisis at a time.

As Robert Frost opined, the ‘best way out is always through,’ and to make it out, one has to process what’s gained. Here’s that journey…

And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through
Leastways for me—and then they’ll be convinced.1


1. [✔️] Work: The best “work” is the work you’d do for free

“When building habits, choose consistency over content. The best book is the one you can’t put down. The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing every day. The best health food is the one you find tasty. The best work is the work you’d do for free.” — @naval

Sometimes, a pandemic is all one needs to clarify what matters in life.

Nothing like a swift kick in the pants to enable one to find what one loves doing. If this pandemic taught us anything it’s that life is rare, life is short, and we better make the best use of our time doing what we love, with folks worth spending time with.

Here’s why:

Three things the pandemic reminded me about life: it is about purpose, purpose and purpose.

It’s as much about the end, as it is about the beginning. And in the middle, is finding purpose.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs


A job ain’t ‘just a job’ no more.

More than ever folks are finding the weight of today, bearing down upon them with the swirl of events ranging from once-in-a-century pandemic to once-in-forever climate change.2

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill

And to me it all starts with mental health.3


Flashback: The middle of the pandemic, circa 2020

I thought the panic attacks had subsided. Or, so I told myself.

It was a recurrent nightmare around the time I went through my personal hell.

But, here I was months into the pandemic, towards the end of 2021, yet feeling that familiar sense of claustrophobia wash over me.

Mental health is that nebulous pandora’s box that needs attention, whether you’d like to or not. More recently, my intuition seems to be felt across the country. In large numbers, folks are starting to drop off the work force whether it’s young creators or middle-managers. 4

“It feels like I’m trying to capture this prize, but I don’t know what the prize even is.” – Via The New York Times 5


But I digress…


If the pandemic has taught us any one thing, it’s that this is not the time to be timid, especially if wherever you are is causing you to relive some of the lowest moments in your life.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

None of that is worth it, so when the opportunity came about for a role to build community; yes, that community that first drew me to LinkedIn (I talk about it here to a friend of mine, Jeremiah Owyang, once I started there).

And, work is a critical part of it. After a year of soul-searching, 6 different startups, two of which happened to be LinkedIn & Twitter, I found the isolation goading me on to a sense of meaning & purpose, and hope.

And, like I told Kay when I was negotiating a “job” offer at LinkedIn, the most satisfying experience of my career until now, “I’d do this job for free.” I miss that purpose.


Work comes full circle: Back to Community at Spero Ventures


I’m excited to share that I’m back where I belong — building community — in a role that reminds me the most of my first), building brand and all it can mean for a portfolio of startups at a mission-driven Spero Ventures.

It’s back to my roots, building brand with community; thus, marketing.

The first stage of my career included building communities of our users for startups, from LinkedIn to Twitter. And at Spero, my goal is to build & sustain a mission-driven community of startups in our portfolio. If you’re a startup founder, I’d love to hear your story, and in the coming weeks and months I’ll be at work telling the story of our startups to those who care.

Your career (& life) will come in seasons: seasons of power, seasons of recovery, seasons of grief, seasons of hustle, seasons of rest.

If you’re in a season you don’t love, hang in there. The seasons always, always change. And this one could be teaching you something powerful. — Jenni Gritters

The Future (of work, the work and for me) is clear, regardless of the undulations, cliffs, peaks and lows, finding the equanimity that a mind at peace with itself and its surroundings might offer.

Pursuit of equanimity is what life is all about. And the meaning of work.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the twain are inextricably linked, so where you work matters more than ever before. A job just ain’t a job anymore.

Feel free to connect with me on twitter @mariosundar and of course, reach out on LinkedIn.

Next Week: Finding Love in a Pandemic and More…

Who should be reading my writing?

My next post this week is on my indulgence in @RoamResearch, that has changed the way I work. Very rarely does such a product come along. One that irrevocably changes behavior, that’s addictive, and that one didn’t imagine until it came along.

A snapshot of one of my recent weeks; there’s no competition between what takes up the bulk of my time — Roam Research — during my work hours and out of it

About Mario Sundar:

What a difference a few years make! Between 2005 and 2020, the world changed and so did I. ®

If you know me, you know me. It has been quite a journey since I got my start at LinkedIn in 2005, as their 2nd PR & Marketing hire. 5 “startups” later, including Twitter during its most chaotic (remember the 2016 elections), 5 startups, and right through this pandemic stoked era I find my thoughts on technology evolve.

I will continue blogging here my thoughts on life in the time of Covid-19, evolution of social technology, and my personal focus on health, fitness, and spirituality.

Come, follow me and over 10,000 of my friends on LinkedIn and Twitter. For now, the easiest would be for you to follow me on Twitter @mariosundar.


  1. Robert Frost’s magnificent ode to loneliness and mental health in the magnificent “A Servant to Servants.” ↩︎
  2. From one-of-a-kind tennis stars to Olympians to kids with a camera making TikTok videos for a living, to middle managers across the country, every professional every where, is going through what is in my mind — “The Great Renaissance” — and using the chaos to figure out what truly matters and many of them standing up for it.[^ Via The New York Times: “As people collectively process the devastation of the pandemic, burnout has plagued nearly every corner of the work force. White-collar workers are spontaneously quitting jobs; parents are at a breaking point; hourly and service employees are overworked; and health care professionals are coping with the exhaustion and trauma of being on the front lines of the pandemic.” ↩︎
  3. Going through grief, while battling heartache and career realignment, will set you straight. I wrote about just that pre-pandemic in my post on what a year 2020 was and how it changed me. ↩︎
  4. From tennis’ brightest star Naomi Osaka who withdrew from the French Open in June 2021 to one of the country’s greatest Olympians (and the most decorated gymnast in the world) Simone Biles who withdraws from this year’s Olympics citing mental health, saying “We are human, too” as if that needs to be said. ↩︎
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/08/style/creator-burnout-social-media.html Burnout has affected generations of social media creators. In 2017, Instagram influencers began leaving the platform, saying they were feeling depressed and discouraged. “No one seems to be having any fun anymore on Instagram,” a contributor to the blog This Is Glamorous wrote at the time ↩︎

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