Saturday, March 26, 2016

Powerball

I bought tickets to the Powerball a couple of months ago when it tipped the 1 billion mark (did anybody else do this?!), spoiler alert: I didn't win -
I took a picture to text it to my parents, you know, so we could share in the spoils  :)
but thinking about what I might have done if I'd won inadvertently made the whole exercise worth my $6. My instructor at the gym was going around in a circle asking us all how we'd quit our jobs if we ended up winning the Powerball, and the responses from people got pretty grandiose ("I'd hire a skywriter to write 'F*ck you' in the sky and then tell my boss to look out the window"). Eep.

When it came to me I realised that I wouldn't quit what I'm doing, the money would just help things happen a lot faster, but my job would remain the same (and I'd probably move out of my sharehouse). I don't take it for granted that this might be the first time in my life that I can honestly say that; I've been lucky to have had some pretty wonderful jobs in my life, but this is the first one that even a billion dollars couldn't take me away from, and I know that's no small thing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You're more patient than they are

Sam Altman at YC put together this Startup Playbook and as you might expect, it is packed with nugget after nugget of great advice.  If you are running a startup, or thinking about it, I thoroughly recommend it.  I scribbled down a lot of little notes while reading through it, but I'll include one particular one from the initial section (perhaps it resonated with me the most as I'm so early stage myself) -

Let it gooo!  Playing around with giant balloons the other week.
."..almost everyone is going to tell you that your idea sucks [...] whatever the reason is, it will happen a lot, it will hurt, and even if you think you’re not going to be affected by it, you still will be. The faster you can develop self-belief and not get dragged down too much by haters, the better off you’ll be. No matter how successful you are, the haters will never go away."

There are two things about this that made me feel like I was getting a good hard hug when I read it: 1) The 'self-belief' that I've felt swelling up inside of me over the last couple of months does not mean that I am arrogant, or self-inflated. The remainder of the playbook reinforces this, but persistently believing in your own success is essential. And 2) The haters come in different forms - sometimes they are just people who are dismissive of you because of what you do, and *sometimes* they are even voices in the back of your very own head.

My little biz is hardly center stage with any major 'haters' coming my way, but this was clearly on my mind - this is a quote from Seth Godin was one of the first things I wrote at the front of my work notepad:

No idea what the '6:30ish' note means haha! Clearly I was making dinner plans at some point.
I will share a secret with you: this song came onto Pandora (I was on the Taylor Swift channel, ok?) when I was having a rough day, a month into this gig. It made me cry with resonance and now it's my lets-do-this song whenever I need a little pick me up:

I know, so cheesy right?!  I don't care :)

PS - The playbook and Seth Godin quote are both via the ever excellent swissmiss

Monday, November 9, 2015

You already enjoy many things

Image may seem vaguely unrelated, but I took this photo yesterday thinking about the guy who left his tea on this wooden stool, right in the middle of the street. You have to give him credit for coming and going as he pleases, trusting his tea canister and seat to all of the folks passing this busy corner by.
A friend who always sends me the very best things to think about emailed me this article by Mark Manson a couple of weeks ago: 'Screw Finding Your Passion'. Reading it was 7 minutes well spent and a refreshing antidote to the swarm of seminars, pinterest quotes and self-published non-writers out there, all urging us to run into the woods and determine what our true passion is.

To borrow the subject line of my friend's email - go read it. Then this is pretty much verbatim what I wrote back -

Since I left Goog I feel like a lot of people try and find some kind of narrative about what I'm doing; that I'm following my passion, that I'm a frustrated designer who finally liberated myself from the corporate world - but that's not the case. I just talked so long about how much I didn't want to play football anymore, I decided to start collecting bugs because it was different and intriguing to me; I don't know how long I'll be doing this for or how long, or whether it will turn into something else.  When people say 'you're so lucky that you know what you want to do' I think 'yes I am lucky... but you probably already know too; you're just too tied up with financial / job / [insert something] security. There isn't anything else stopping you.'

"You already enjoy many things. You're just choosing to ignore them."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The process

I have had the above nugget of wisdom taped to my door since getting my little business offspring into the wild, it was something that illustrator Becky Simpson said in this interview with The Great Discontent (yes I know, I seem to find all of my lady heroes via these interviews).

Building this new thing has become my joy and obsession, but I am running on 51% thrills and 49% terror all day every day.  I don't think this is a bad thing - I was telling a friend the other day about this quote "if your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough"; at the time of first reading it, it made me feel a little guilty about where I was, my comfy and only-just-challenging-enough job, but I can read it now and confirm that yes, for the terror I presently feel I am definitely living out my dreams right now.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and say hi *hiiiii!*  Onwards with the process.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Europa Part Zwei

With the breathing space that a career change provides, I tacked on a week in Berlin and a final weekend in London before heading back stateside.  The three weeks altogether was the longest block of time I'd played tourist in awhile, but Berlin being the city that it is I felt right at home.  I read in a travel magazine once that Berlin is "the city where you don't feel out of place"; I certainly felt that on my first visit, a student backpacking through Europe, and again on this last trip.

It of course helped that I had the luxury of staying with an old Weimar girlfriend (10 year reunion!), but what really made me feel right at home was re-exploring a city overrun by designers and artists.  I'd heard a lot about its gentrification over the years, but it was so interesting to see what that meant for a city when the primary industries there aren't tech and more tech (and the wealth that comes with that).  Enter more open shared grounds, creative re-activation of spaces and good, cheap beer.

Case in point: my visit to Klunkerkranich.  This was a bar / restaurant complete with family-friendly sandpit was on the roof of a very unremarkable shopping mall in Neukölln.  I had to ask for directions at a run down dollar store to confirm that, yes, I should really just go to the top level of the parking lot and just keep walking.  I'm so glad I did!
Prinzessinnengarten was another gem of a space; a sustainably run community farm where you can come and enjoy lunch made from the vegetables grown, have a beer or just chill out.  Busy roads rush all around but you can't hear them once you're nestled in; importantly it was right next to...
...Planet Modulor!  Aka my dream store.  More than just a paper store, it's a comprehensive material store where they sell everything from ropes (above) to foam to cards and stamps and pens and packaging and even neon ribbon from the Netherlands.  I spent half a day there and considered that a huge act in self restraint *cue emoji of winged cash*.
Isn't it always zeit für brot?  Oh German bread how I missed you!  I also can't go this far in a travel post without mention of a good carb.  Not pictured: all of those dark, delicious heavy ryes I had before coming to this new kid on the block.
Succulents playing shoe adornments at Tempelhof Field - once a military base, airport and now a big sprawling mass of land for barbecues, sports and DIY gardens like this one.  The scale of it all was the startling part, it's so rare to be in the middle of a city and then suddenly be walking on broad, flat spans of land.
Obligatory photo of the canal, complete with tiny swan in the center.  What I especially love about walking along here in Berlin is that when the weather is good you see people really enjoying it, climbing over fences and making all efforts to swing their feet off the edge and sit with a beer, that always seems to magically appear when the weather is good.
Oh Berlin!  I hope it isn't another ten years until we meet again.