Category Archives: Random

Things that don’t really fit elsewhere.

Warmth in the darkness is hard to accept, or why we waste energy as humans

Metaphorically speaking, Homo Sapiens, by and large, haven’t evolved since Plato as much as we would sometimes like to think. He was the first to share the parable of the cave, which is where many, many of my fellow humans are trapped.

It’s dark outside and inside, but it’s warm, and where I’m working, it’s glowing

Unfortunately for me and my sanity, the cat, Oreo, isn’t as evolved as I am. That means, in the darkness, he still feels fear. At his age, middle aged and then some for a cat, it’s hard to evolve. To grow.

Like a small child, he seeks comfort from me. I had to chase him away, to watch the movie on Netflix I had to put on to entertain him. The lights next to the television are lovely, their glow is abstract and it provides a kind of ephemeral luminescence. Comforting, even to a human being like me. Soothing.

Oreo is feeling better now, the lights soothe him and his meows are gone. At peace again, I can now reflect on the experience and how it interjected itself into this story, this blog post.

My fellow Americans, we waste a ton of the Earth’s resources bathing ourselves in light

I realize for public safety, there are a number of reasons we do this. What if there was a better way to establish trust, to shine the metaphorical light? What then?

We could stop wasting so much energy. Free ourselves to higher order pursuits, freedom, happiness, joy and love. Live. Breath. Exist.

Shining a light in the darkness, literally, burning energy simply to create a soft, glowing sense of trust is wasteful. There is a better way.

I know how to teach it, to share it, to nurture it and bring it to life. It’s inside all of us and commercially, inside my company. Tomorrow is a better, safer, brighter day than ever.

Glowing brighter while burning less, lasting longer and enabling peace like nothing else. Wow. That’s a happy place. We can get there.

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Symbols, money and the clues about our future past

Yesterday, I felt a sense of urgency. “Do I still have my crystal ball?” Then this morning, I read a ten year old link asking, “What color are your bits?”

After browsing for a moment, I sent a quick note to my team…about the rocket ship product. Not the bicycle, which is what we’re building now. The crystal ball was for me, yesterday and the link this morning was to remind me something.

I owe my children a copy of our family tree; over the holiday, I need to ask my dad to make a copy and figure it out while I’m there. It’s important, because family is important.

People matter, especially those people who love you and that hold a special place in your heart. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to know a father loves his children. That love, that feeling, holds a special place in my heart. While I love my dad, the feeling I have for my children is infinitely deeper, wider, different. It’s hard to explain but I think it has to do with basic, human evolution. If fundamentally our species is here for survival, then we’re obligated to have more.

If for some strange reason, there’s a higher purpose to all this, it’s up to us to discover it, share it, embrace it…nurture it. Right? Knowledge is real. It’s powerful. It’s visceral, like the truth. Like love, it can be felt, it can be grabbed, held and understood in a way that transcends something as crude as the phonetic language we all share.

The greatest keys to scientific inquiry lie wrapped in a conundrum

Or maybe not, I did, after all, lead this post with a crystal ball, rigth? Pagan tradition has gypsies that go around telling you your future. The savvier among us know that when the enlightened gypsies came to town, what happened? They told the truth, and were run off by the good townspeople.

How can you trust those with no notion of property?

It’s a sick parallel of what happened to the gypsies in Europe, what the arriving Europeans did to the native people here. Again, how can you trust those with no notion of rights, responsibilities, ideas that can’t be communicated in words, in language, because language itself is an artifact of cultural bias. Of a strict, dogmatic way of thinking.

Today I have, as usual, too much to do and as they say, there is no rest for the wicked. There’s a concept, floating in the air, surrounded by heat, by warmth. It’s cold outside and inside, there’s a fire. It’s enabling me to feel good, to smile. The light spills forth from my eyes, and my fingertips start to glow.

Colors, a pulsating, mesh rainbow, start to pulse. I wake up, smiling.

There’s good work to be done.

2014-12-09 ranking up to the right

Bitcoin and the future shape of knowledge

IMG_0023As a child, I dreamed very powerful things. Stories. Fantasies. It turns out, years later, that there are some dreams which are so powerful, they take over your life, having dreamed them, until you make them reality. I’ve personally felt lost in the sea change that takes over your life as the genie comes out of the bottle. Both in good ways, for example, when working with amazing people. Hanging out with my children.

In bad ways, too, such as when I lost myself for years in drinking

Trust me when I say, it sucks to lose yourself. Drown. Hurt. Ache, all over. Feel so lost you can’t recognize up from down. Left from right. When the tears have lost all sense of meaning and refuse to come, because while you are alive, you’re dead inside. A walking, breathing zombie, who crushes it, nightly, with a quantity of alcohol so profound it would kill the child or small adult who consumed it. The scars are still there, mostly on the inside, and sometimes when I look at the dark places I’ve been through, the light of the truth hurts.

I’m still here. Despite all my faults, all my mistakes, I’m breathing. Exhale, slowly. Unclench, I’ve though to myself more than once. This is what a super hero feels like, I thought this morning, fighting down my fear for the thousandth time. Or hundredth, perhaps. It’s been one hundred days since I gave up the bottle and put a cork in unleashing the demon every night. I still can’t track how many years it has been since I spent one hundred days. Dry.IMG_0001

Wrung out, warn out and tired, for a while. Daily fighting the urge to give in, to give up, to chuck it all and drink once again. The tears are forming now, and I’m tempted to let them out. It hurts to think about how much I wanted, craved and needed to drink again. Mom’s got cancer, time to drink. My step dad’s in the hospital again, it’s time to drink.

When the third time your step father is in the hospital, and you get fired when you want to visit him, and see your children in Hong Kong, whom you haven’t seen for four heart wrenching months.

Time to drink.

Over and again, it was time to drink. Recently, I’ve fought down the fear, the hopelessness, the rage. I’ve battled and won, time and again, without giving up.

This weekend, I had a profound, incredible realization. I’m feeling better than I have for a long time, the fear, the rage, the lost in a sea of soul crushing despair has faded. Tears are streaming down my face, and my nose is running, but, I need to write this now. The hope, the joy…I’ve lost myself, and found it all again. I can smile.

Laugh. Remember. The days add up, and the days are filled with joy. Gratitude, every day for the meals I cook, the joy I have in love, life, children and family. I feel better than I have in a decade, and then this weekend, in the midst of celebratory joy, I heard a voice.

Time to drink.

I didn’t. I’m happy, I’m crying right now, but I didn’t give in, I didn’t give up. I slayed the demon, for the hundredth time, and I don’t know when or how it goes away. All I know is, every day, I’m smiling. I’m happy. The issues are more rare, less frequent, and overall, I’m at peace.

I still have ups and downs. Don’t we all? We’re human beings, filled with emotion. Those highs and lows can wreak havoc on our sense of peace. Of joy.

Advertising, marketing, stories. They move us, the make us and they break us. The story we tell ourselves, about our lives, about our dreams. Are we okay with who we are, deep down?

I’m finally okay, and I know who I am. Accepting of the issues, the mistakes. I’ll try to repeat the ones I’ve made less often in the future, I know I’m not perfect. I don’t need to be.

I just need to be me; and I’m totally fine with that. Flaws and all.

Okay, my tears are dry and there’s one final thing I want to share, despite all how it hurt to write that, and then read it, and that it’s my name, my reality, and my story in this post. All me, and I’m good with that. If you open up, if you share your story, your vision, even if sometimes, you make mistakes and it hurts, you’ll be infinitely better off. Somewhere along the time, after my head exploded, I lost myself.

There is a message I have, and it’s a powerful one. Be thankful, try to improve, and find your joy inside. There’s a light there, it’s bright, it’s powerful, and we all have our own.

Unfortunate, sick and wrong: my take on foreign military intervention

When browsing LinkedIn today, I saw a post from Jeff Weiner and then I had to put my two cents in, since the last time I saw him in person was right before I moved to Maldives. During my time there, I had the pleasure of meeting then president and of course, vice president who later became president after I left. Take a read:2014-11-21-linkedin-politics

Why this post should never have happened on LinkedIn:

It’s a slippery slope from praising foreign leaders to encouraging dictatorships and violating a free country’s right to govern themselves. While I was living in Maldives, then president attempted to have the police, illegally, break into my apartment.

After I returned stateside, Richard Branson decided to weigh in, on the wrong side of the facts, after the ex-president resigned his post. With money comes influence and Jeff Weiner, in the time since I met him at Yahoo, has amassed both in great quantities. The current PM of India may be transparent to the public but the reality is that many smaller countries around the world are beholden, in a military sense, to their larger neighbors. Living under the threat of external military intervention at the drop of a hat isn’t, “Freedom.”

The United States, and other governments, eventually need to come to grips with a simple truth: either people are free to self govern, or we ultimately select the, “Chosen few,” who then become the masters over our own selves. “You can’t legislate good behavior,” is a favorite expression of mine.

Why I’m complaining

Ladies and gentlemen, participate in your local electoral process – and leave each to their own. The United Nations exists for a reason, ideally, to ensure peace, justice and human rights to all peoples. Supporting, lauding in public any foreign leader who has ties to oppressive regimes, excessive foreign military intervention and more is not what the United States I was born in stands for…and, it sure isn’t the country other of my citizens were born into either. Freedom, remember?

Keep your money and influence out of politics – everybody. If power corrupts and money buys elections, we’re all screwed.

Let’s all focus on improving our own piece of this world, where we have a ton of work to do…and remember that sometimes, foreign leaders are no better, or worse, than what you have in your own home country.

Time is the one thing everybody could use more of

About a week and a half ago, I looked through the, “New app,” list on my iPhone. More than half the apps said, “Faster,” as if that was the only thing that mattered, or that it was enough in isolation to get me to download. Back in 2005, I met the performance guru, Steve Souders. He was a fellow Yahoo and I walked away from the meeting confused. Fast forward a few years, I used his teaching to improve bounce rates by more than 10% on the fastest growing social network in 2009, behind Twitter. Given that they just filed for IPO, it wasn’t a bad place to be.

Time is precious. None of us know how much we have, none of us know how much remains. The one thing that’s certain is that everyone of us has tasks throughout the day. Things we need to do, stuff we must accomplish, potentially work that needs to be done. If each one of those things on our, “Must do,” list took 10% less time, who among us would complain? Nobody I know.

There are many parts of life that are on the clock. In public, I never disclose things that are too personal, that hit too close to home. Time is precious and I want to enjoy as much of it, with friends, with family, with people who inspire me.

As we cruise into the season of shorter days, family gatherings and good food, I know I’m going to enjoy every moment of my family.

Yahoo Mail redesign – well done team

I use Gmail and Yahoo Mail, both. After the latest refresh on Yahoo Mail, I have to say, it’s the best working product I’ve seen from my former team in years. The oddpost acquisition a long time ago put them on the path they’ve been on and now, with the refresh, I have to say it’s far more usable. Fun, too.

Gmail isn’t fun. It’s functional and there’s a massive difference. Sometimes, when you use a product, you want to have fun. Be entertained. At the core of Google is utility (at least, it has always felt that way to me, but I’ve never worked there). Yahoo’s aspiration, I felt before, during and after working there, was to entertain. Sure, Google bought Youtube…but those two brands, despite it being the same corporate entity, aren’t synonymous in most people’s heads. There’s a reason Google did not rebrand it as, “Google Video.”

The silly exclamation mark, the logo experimentation in public…so far in my post Yahoo career, it seems that they finally have a better grasp as a whole team of what to do, where to go and what they need to achieve. It’s impressive. The Carol Bartz days made me cringe, personally. Then the guy who they tossed with the fictional resume…

…I might write vampire stories but I know that those are based on lies, for lack of a better term. Vampires, djinni’s, glowing magical swords and the like are not real. Just trust me on that one.

If they can start to turn the opinion of a “Silicon Valley cynic,” like me…they’re definitely doing something right.

Inequality, social justice and my long radio silence

It’s not often I feel like somebody I know, or knew, is a hero. Today, I was browsing LinkedIn while trying to figure out the right last leg of a new story; I saw a link that was powerful, inspirational and exactly what more people need to share. The odd part? It was shared by one of the one percent, who typically aren’t lobbying to improve the inequality of the United States.

I don’t know Jeff well, I’ve chatted with him in person all of once and been in meetings with him perhaps a few times, heard him speak less than that. However, seeing his post today in my LinkedIn feed reminded me of how fortunate I am to have known, at least for a short while, a guy who has the vision to dream a brighter, better future and the courage to take the steps to move society at large towards that vision.

Check out this trailer, see the statistics and try to wrap your head around the problem in the United States as it stands today.

Unfortunately, I grew up relatively poor and the lessons you learn growing up, for the most part, in the socio-economic status that I did are not the same ones you learn growing up in an affluent home. It’s taken years, a lot of studying outside of school and self reflection to figure out the gap between my education and understanding. While I’ve been spending my time learning, studying, connecting…I haven’t been sharing, at least, not as, “Me.” A few friends know of my other blog, which now has as large an audience as this. But…that one is personal, this one, is business.

In a business sense, in terms of how things are run and yes, I’ve done this myself to my chagrin, something is very, very wrong with the way most companies operate. The way compensation gets structured and the way that wealth is shared in our society. It’s heartwarming to see an executive with the influence, the vision and the ability of Jeff to share something so near and dear to the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans.

On the eve of a, “Government shutdown,” when some jackass politician wasted our money by reciting, “Green Eggs and Ham,” it’s gratifying to see, to hear, a billionaire say that something is fundamentally wrong and that we need to fix it, as a society.

 

Cultural fit and personality are as important, if not more, than technical skill

When hiring and building teams, it’s relatively easy to find people with skills. However, when you need specific skills it gets a bit harder. Then when you start to consider personality, communication style and cultural fit potential it gets harder still. Building a relationship with a new team member can be challenging depending on the operating style of the company. Over time in my last role, I got better and better at the on-boarding process post hire so that the team could ramp faster. Also (Hi, Ben) I learned from one of my hires that I needed to balance selling the opportunity and the current state of things. For nearly six months, I got the kind of questions I am certain I had for my first manager. Setting expectations appropriately would have saved me time and energy.

In my interview yesterday, the cultural fit wasn’t there. The awesome thing is that the recruiter followed up quickly and the team did not waste their time, or mine, in the process. Ultimately, as I learned from watching the first season of, “The Apprentice,” on NBC is that technical skills are good but the ability to learn and improve is better. The other thing which came across about the show was how each person usually had trouble spotting their own gaps and improving. It was as much personality challenge as it was about the business challenge.

The whole area of personality assessment and the Meyers-Briggs type questionaires never made a ton of sense to me until my last role. For the startups I’ve had, even when we ramped the staff, the management was hands on and very much scripted. Hiring was putting people through a list driven process and seeing if they had the internet savvy to check each box. Other than that, as we were a virtual team, personality and cultural fit weren’t a part of the assessment.

Looking back on my Yahoo experience, the underpinnings of the company back then were still very, “Hacker friendly,” in a good way. Want a developer account? Done; you’re good to code. Want to setup an email list? Done in five clicks. Want to get all sorts of data six ways from Sunday on usage patterns across any given property, whether or not you’re working on said property? Done. The, “Hacker friendly,” part of Yahoo’s culture was very appealing to me, despite my few years of programming, it’s not my forte. Still, things were raw enough and the ingredients were all there if you wanted to do something in your free time that made work easier, you had implicit and explicit permission.

In my Intuit experience, I learned a ton about communication and building consensus across disparate stakeholders. Leading through influence, rather than position authority. I learned other things as well, which I cherish and that having had the experience enables me to be even more excited about the next chapter.

Oddly enough, growing up I was the least inclined of the Goodrich’s to roll up my sleeves and do serious physical work; I never worked in construction and have only re-roofed one house and painted two. Digitally speaking when it comes to work, I’m thrilled whenever I can get stuff done. Checkout via Git and edit some copy? Sure. Draft a blog post, press release or script for a webinar? Awesome. Strategize on a testing roadmap to ensure optimal price, conversion rates and LTV? Definitely.Instrument via Google Experiments, Optimizely or similar the test code and HTML? No problem.

Meta-work about the work that needs to happen before it can get then prioritized in an upcoming sprint to have an impact which can’t be measured end to end? Not so much. I like data, I like measurement and I love marketing platforms that can change the category. Knowing my own cultural and personality type ensures that I’ll land in the right place, doing the right kind of work.

Thirty-six hours to fly from Hong Kong to SFO; ouch

When I booked my tickets, I grabbed the cheapest ones. Now I realize given my layover today that if spending an extra hundred could have skipped the twenty two hour layover I have today…well, that would’ve been the right way to go. Now I have to fly out to Seoul, wait twenty-two hours, then board my final flight back to SFO. Even flying to the other side of the world from SFO in Maldives or India if you go through Dubai, it tends to be less than thirty-six hours.

I’ve been on email and in touch with folks; got some great news and am expecting more soon. Jet lag has been brutal this week, I’m sure that when I get to the states, it’ll be a fast recovery since I never fully adjusted to Hong Kong time.

What were the highlights of such a short and brutal trip?

Seeing my kids, of course. I spent the entire time in a tiny apartment, writing, looking up consulting agreements and reviewing job opportunities. In just about three days, I wrote nearly six thousand words and rebooted the first novel in a trilogy that I’m super excited about. Re-reading a few books by some authors I enjoy also allowed me to see, since it was a re-read, what I liked, what I didn’t like and where my style is just different.

The nice thing about distance, about doing something again, repetition is that you can see things which you might not catch the first time.

Creepy guy keeps clicking my linkedin profile, does this happen to you?

For some reason, this guy checks out my LinkedIn profile every couple of days. I wish he would browse anonymously or something because it’s really, truly creepy. He doesn’t write, he doesn’t favorite my stuff, he doesn’t offer me a job or solicit me as a recruiter. Nor do we work together. He just keeps checking in, even when I haven’t posted anything. I am 100% sure that I’m not the only person on LinkedIn that views this behavior as strange. It would make sense if it followed, you know, a status update, post, like or share. Or if they were actually in my network as a connection.

However, none of those things is true and I really wish that they would buy a clue, realize their creep factor has hit a billion and just knock it off.

Let me give you an idea how this is supposed to work on LinkedIn in a few steps:

  1. I check you out, it’s because at the moment, I’m job hunting and looking for consulting work
  2. Somebody else checks me out because they want to hire me or I shared something; or they were curious
  3. What you do not do, under any circumstances, is keep coming back to my profile every two days to look at my face.

After I post this, sure, come check me out – that’s kind of the point. But, check me out every three days, whether or not I’m posting stuff? That’s just weird.

OR maybe, just maybe, I’m the only one that thinks this is strange?