Aerial view of Los Angeles via Jay Mantri

I hit the streets this past week. Caught the 134 to the 5 to the 110 and ended up in downtown LA. Took 45 minutes for the 15 miles, but it was worth it.

I missed my evening routine: walking my dog from 7:00pm – 7:30pm, but it was worth it. I missed dinner with my wife, 7:30pm – 8:00pm, but it was worth it. I missed the latest installment of ESPN’s stunning documentary O.J.: Made in America, but it was worth it.

It was worth it, because, after months of conference calls, emails, GoToMeeting calendar invites, and sitting behind my computer screen interacting with new business partners, we all met in person for the first time. IRL.

Sure, we spoke about work. Our partnership. Our strategy. Our tactics. We got things done. But more importantly, we realized we could trust each other. We enjoyed each other’s company. We put away our screens for a few hours and connected without the crutch of 4G or WiFi. We debated the greatest father-son duos in sports history: Griffey, Bonds, Manning, Hull, without using Google for “inspiration.” We found mutually shared connections, without using LinkedIn. Shared stories from our recent trips to Cuba or Israel, no TripAdvisor needed.

Technology seduces us to sit behind our screens, crane our necks down at our phones in our laps, and hope for the best. And we can often accomplish much through it’s awesome power. We can learn a lot. We can achieve success in work and life. But the screen experience can never compare to the real life experience. The webinar with a sales prospect almost never produces as much progress as the in-person pitch. A shared Chrome browser is fine, but a shared kale salad kafta kebab will almost always result in more business value in the long run.

The quick double tap on Instagram generating a “like” on your friend’s latest dog photo is not the same as a walk in the park with your labrador, Marley. It’s much easier to generate hearts on Instagram than it is to pick up shit with your hand inside a plastic bag, surely.

I love my screens – small, medium and large. Most of us do. But I believe that there is nothing better, nothing more powerful, than a human connection in real life that can help you get from Point A to Point B, specifically in business relationships.

And this past week, around a crowded dinner table, I had a nice subtle reminder, a nice whisper in the ear from an old friend (real life) that was still lingering in the background. I’m here. 

Now the challenge is to find a healthy balance.

You’re the Chief Revenue Officer and you just hit your sales quota for the month. You’re the CTO and your team just built an extremely fast middle-out compression algorithm. Or you’re the CFO and you just implemented a complex version of Great Plains Accounting Software and rolled it out to your entire finance department, all the while helping your company raise a Series B round.

Congrats, you’re fired.

These were the scenes in London last night: Manchester United’s manager, Louis van Gaal, led his team to their first FA Cup triumph since 2004. And despite the win, within hours it had been leaked reported that Van Gaal was set to be terminated.

I feel for Van Gaal. To rob him of his moment in the sun, for the news to break of his imminent departure within hours of his triumph, certainly seems a bit disrespectful at worst, or unfortunate at best.

The thing is, despite the awkward timing, it’s the correct decision. Yes, Van Gaal led Manchester United to FA Cup glory. The emotion of winning such a massive game, in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, can surely go a long way in helping a man’s job security, legacy, or both. But the executives at Manchester United weren’t concerned with emotion, they were concerned with data.

Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently. – Charles Duhigg

Van Gaal won a (very important) match, but his results over two years were underwhelming. Keeping him on the job due to the win would have masked Manchester United’s larger issues. So they cut the CTO after he deployed the solid code. Sacked the CFO after he closed the Series B round.

In Van Gaal’s place, they’ll bring in Jose Mourinho, the manager with statistically the best win percentage in Premier League history. They’re choosing data over emotion. Manchester United didn’t let winning mask their problems.

If Van Gaal and Mourinho aren’t your cup of tea, and the other football is your sport – run it back to the New England Patriots in 2001. Starting QB Drew Bledsoe went out injured early in the season. At 29, he was in the prime of his career, he had led the team to a Super Bowl five years prior. Unlike Van Gaal, he was universally loved by Boston sports fans, the media, and his teammates. By the time Bledsoe was healthy again, this unknown kid Tom Brady had come in and led the team to an 11-3 record. Coach Bill Belichick looked at the data and stuck with Brady. He made the choice that most other people would be content to ignore.

The emotion would have said – stick with Bledsoe – it’s “how we’ve always done it,” but the data showed that Brady, despite being newdifferent, and unknown, despite being the uncomfortable choice, was playing better.

Fifteen years and four Super Bowl championships later, it worked out just fine in New England. Data won.

Van Gaal may have been good enough but Mourinho, likely, will be better. Bledsoe was more than serviceable, but Brady had another gear, and took a franchise to another level.

You may be winning – through skill, through luck, through both. But if a difficult or complex change is necessary to take that winning performance to another level, to push out better code with fewer flaws, to make your sales process, and thus hitting your quota even more predictable, to run a tighter financial ship, don’t sit idly by. Make the tough choice and go for the win.

Avi Bryant, an engineering lead at the technology company Stripe, recently published a blog post titled, “BYOT,” where he encouraged groups of 2 to 5 people to apply to work together at the company. They call it “Bring Your Own Team.”

What an interesting concept. And a dream scenario for those engineers who do manage to successfully navigate the application and interview process and end up together at Stripe.

I’m not sure if Avi or his Stripe colleagues recently read NY Times columnist Charles Duhigg’s new book Smarter Faster Better, but even if they didn’t, they’re on to something here. In it Duhigg tells the fascinating story of a team of data scientists at Google spending nearly half a decade studying what makes teams productive and successful. They found that how a group interacts is more important than who is in the group. That a team of “B” players with high emotional intelligence, who allow each other to speak freely, safely and evenly, can outperform a team of supposed “A” players – superstars on paper.

We’ve all experienced or witnessed this phenomenon. It’s all around us. In England, Leicester’s rise to the top of the Premier League this season – the world’s richest soccer league, is a victory for teamwork. Leicester’s players play for each other – just watch their high tempo, organized style. Each member of the team is accountable, and they’re winning against all odds. 5,000 to 1 odds, to be exact.

Or take a fictional example – like HBO’s tremendous comedy Silicon Valley. Pied Piper’s two engineers, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, need each other. They make each other (and the show) better – if not for their coding collaboration, than at least for the friendly competition they inspire in each other. It’s unorthodox, but it works.

Much has been written about the rise of contingent workers in our new “gigging economy” – economists predict that 40% of America’s workforce will be comprised of freelancers and temps by 2020. And while 2 out of every 5 workers in less than five years may just be freelancers –out for themselves, in teams of “one,” at the end of the day, success in business rarely comes from individual pursuits.

Which is why Stripe’s call for job seekers to apply together as a team has such potential. As Avi describes it, “the industry has always focused on hiring atoms; we’d like to try hiring molecules.” As with any science experiment – Stripe will have to test the hypothesis they’ve constructed and go out and hire these teams of engineers. Some will work out, others may not. There are certainly challenges that will arise and require thinking through related to performance, retention, and advancement of the individuals that make up these teams.

Finding an amazing teammate, or a group of teammates that you work well with, that make you better, that you enjoy being around, is so rare. If you’re lucky enough to have experienced this, you wake up inspired and motivated to succeed.

These are the types of groups that stick together and can change industries and the planet through innovations like PayPal, Tesla, LinkedIn, and SpaceX. The kind of teams that can win the Premier League against all odds because the “how” outweighed the “who.”

Netflix’s original (and acquired) programming has reached an unprecedented quality level over the past few years – House of Cards, Master of None, Narcos, Bloodline, Peaky Blinders, Making a Murderer – if you don’t know, now you know. And I’m fiercely loyal to the streaming service. But if you live in LA, you press the pause button on Netflix during the winter, and you hit the play button on awards season screeners. That’s what I did over the past month, anyway.

And though it certainly wasn’t as gripping as say Spotlight or as entertaining as say, The Martian, I keep thinking about one scene from Steven Spielberg’s Cold War era historical drama Bridge of Spies.

A Soviet spy sits in an American jail. His lawyer asks him, “Are you worried?” about the possibility of being executed. The spy Rudolf Abel calmly replies, “Would that help?”

And Abel’s line just keeps resonating with me. He’s so spot on. It may benefit him to strategize with his lawyer, put himself in the best position to make the most out of his situation, but worrying likely won’t benefit him much at all.

We all worry. I asked my wife if she was worried this week when we had to take our sick dog to the vet. “Would it help?” she Abel-ly replied. Fair enough. So when my colleague expressed his worry this week that he hadn’t heard back from a large prospective client, I told him about Rudolf Abel. He ended up hearing back a few days later – turns out that digging your car out after a blizzard took precedence over finalizing the deal. Snowstorm > SaaS dealmaking. Who knew?

So at work, I’m going to try not to worry too much about what my competitors are doing – at least about what I can’t control. Worrying distracts me from getting done the shit I need to get done, and I suspect the concept works the same way for others. I think it’s hard to win when you’re worrying.

Startups move fast: decision making is incessant, there isn’t often a ton of data to back up gut instincts, especially when you are pioneering in the early-stage, so worrying is just another unnecessary impediment that slows down progress.

We’re human, we have feelings, so of course it’s unlikely we’ll be able to reduce our worrying to nil. But perhaps we can get close. I doubt the world’s greats spend too much of their time worrying, they’re too focused, too motivated, too driven. I’d bet Serena Williams is more warrior than worrier.

I’m not sure what Serena is like of course, but I won’t dwell on it. It certainly won’t help.

Oh, and I think my dog will be OK too.