Archive for the 'Life' Category

2011 Goals

In most ways, 2010 was a great year: I got into and started business school, Sarah and I went on an unforgettable trip to India, and I got to spend a good amount of time at home in August. However, achieving last year’s goals was not one of the things that went well. In fact, I didn’t keep a single one – not good.

Putting that aside, it’s a new year and a new opportunity to stick to my resolutions. Here they are:

  • Develop expertise in social enterprise generally and the education sector specifically. To accomplish this I will: focus my reading on this topic (at least 3 books and magazines), shift my online news consumption to these areas, and write articles for MITER on these topics (at least 2 articles).
  • Build leadership experience through school organizations. While there will be many opportunities at Sloan, I want to remain focus on building the presence of Net Impact and MITER. The specific goals will be determined along with the rest of the student leadership team, but want to hold myself accountable to those goals here
  • Exercise! I got knocked out of rhythm because of India and then school. My goal will be to exercise at least twice per week through a combination of running, squash, basketball, and biking. If I am in Boston over the summer, then I want to bike twice a month (but it’s likely that I won’t bike at all during the winter).
  • Make a difference at Fenway High School.
  • Get involved at MIT outside of Sloan. This is a more open ended goal that can be satisfied in many ways, but the involvement should be significant and allow me to make new friends and learn from smart people

Cheers to a great 2011!

Mid-Year Goals Update

Okay it’s June, and as anticipated, I know a lot more about the rest of my year than I did in January. I’d like to refocus my goals for this year to stay focused on what I’d like to achieve.

Professional
I start business school in august. I’m quite excited about it, but it’s important to me to maintain laser focus on what I want to achieve during my time in school. Although, I know that part of being in school is about being open to the unexpected, here are a few principles that I want to keep.

  1. Deepening rather than abandoning technical competency. This might be a funny principle #1 to have going into business school, but it is quite important to me. I aspire to lead by example rather than by edict, to do things rather than say things. To accomplish this, I will take technical classes, join non-MBA student groups, and continue to be a hacker, prototyper, and tinkerer.
  2. Challenge myself to do the hard things. As an undergrad, I was really scared that I couldn’t hack it as a CS major; however, doing CS was probably one of the best decisions i’ve made. In bschool, this means that I should follow my passions and interest even if the path is less certain or won’t provide financial stability. I’m incredibly lucky to have all that I do, and I must continually challenge myself to follow whatever calls to me.
  3. Avoid “the bubble”. When you’re in school, it’s easy to get into a bubble where you don’t really pay attention to what is going on in the world around you. You only have school friends, you only talk about school, you stop paying attention to the news. I want to fight that as best I can. While i want to immerse myself in all that Sloan has to offer, it’s important to keep my head up and still pay attention to everything that is going on around me.

Personal
Looking back, my personal goals from January, still look good, but unfortunately, I’m seriously slacking on my cycling. I’ll be living in a great area for cycling, so when i’m back in Boston in August I need to get back on the bike! In the fall, when the weather is still nice, I’d like to get out and ride every weekend. Need to make that happen!

Summer
I’ll be posting some short updates regarding Sarah and my travels this summer either here or on sarah’s blog. My goal for this summer, is just to relax and enjoy it. Hopefully i can accomplish that :)

2010 Goals

January is a natural for me to reflect not only because it is the start of a new year, but because it is my bday month.  As i look back at my last year’s goals, although I didn’t hit every one in the way that I envisioned, i think, overall 2009 was a pretty good year.  Let’s take a look:

I made (and am still making) a couple attempts to get involved in a volunteer organization.  So far, they haven’t really achieved the “deep involvement” bar that i set for myself.  In the product creation category, i’d give myself a B.  Lasso definitely has active users, but i’m not so sure about passionate.  Most importantly, I learned a LOT from the experience and am applying that knowledge to my future work.  Unfortunately, I did not build a local product team.  While i’ve made lots of new techie friends at carrboro coworking, there has not been an opportunity to co-develop new ideas.  I did start and run an RIA user group.  i’ve let it slide a bit of late, but i’m planning on restarting it soon.  I did another century.  check!  Last but not least, i read 11 books last year.  that is really good for me!  I hope to keep up that pace.

okay, so enough of last year.  Looking forward, here are some of the things i’d like to accomplish this year:

  • Keep reading! same pace as last year, keep increasing the diversity of topics
  • Cycling. Since i don’t know my summer plans yet, i can’t commit to a century; however, I want to ride an average of 1/mo in the winter and 3/mo over the summer
  • Complete two significant Arduino projects.  I’ve always been fascinated by home electronics.  This is the year when I start making them!
  • Stay in shape! Last year, I did a very good job of keeping in shape thanks in no small part to Sarah’s vegetarian diet.  I am happy with my current weight and want to stay here

This year’s goals are markedly less interesting than last year.  This year has the potential to be an interesting one professionally speaking.  I’m excited for it, but it means that i know less about how to plan out my year’s goals.  Perhaps a mid-year update is in order.  I’ll make myself a note to check back in June…

Be Specific!

I think i’m developing a bit of a split personality.  Before jumping to conclusions, let me tell you what I mean.  In one part of my life, abstraction is king.  As a programmer, your ability to recognize, comprehend, and apply abstraction is a fundamental tool in your toolkit.  Without abstraction – and proper application of it – large programs would be utterly incomprehensible.  They would be just a mix of random words and numbers without any means of interpretation.

But on the other hand, in the realm of business, I’m finding that abstraction can be quite dangerous.  Abstraction – and it’s evil cousin, vagueness – lead to all to many long meetings, or worse, miscommunication.

When communicating – with words, not code – I try my best to support everything with specific examples.  This can be hard to do sometimes, and i certainly don’t always succeed, but specificity in language is – i think – a good goal to strive for.

So in the interest of following my own advice, here’s an example of what I mean (it would be a pretty ironic post if i ended with the last paragraph, huh :) ):

This evening I sent out an email to our RIA meetup group.  I was asking for input on our next topic.  Specifically, I need two people to prepare some examples of UI design patterns they have followed when using RIAs.  Rather than just leaving the request at that, I provided an example about how my team used a JS call to caution the user away from hitting the back button and therefore losing all their work.

I hope that this specific example helped to clarify my request and hopefully made the task seem easier than it would have been if i had just left my request in a general form.

You have examples of how clarity in communication has helped you?

ps. the picture is totally random

Meetup and Me

Being totally new to an to an area is difficult.  It’s difficult for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is not having connections to people.  Although it took me a long time to realize it about myself, I thrive off of having people around.  I enjoy listening, learning, and just talking with people that I know well, or am meeting for the first time.

When you are new to an area, opportunites to meet and talk to people seem limited.  It’s really easy to feel isolated.  However, it’s also an opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t have “normally” done when you are in your comfort zome.

For me, Meetup has been an amazing resource for becoming more comfortable in my new location.  I’ve found people with common interests and genuine desires to learn.

Last week, I took the plunge and started my own Meetup on Rich Internet Applications.  We had our first meeting on thursday.  There were 3 people in total.  Not exactly a huge turnout, but I’m encouraged that there is some level of interest.  It is great that I can meet a couple people who I would have no way of meeting otherwise and have a two hour long discussion about a topic that i love.

I’m definitely a newly minted big fan of meetup, and i’m looking forward to many more meetups in the future.

Happy New Year! Goals for 09

I’ve been thinking about doing a post like this for a little while now, but finally found the time to get around to it.  a little late, but it’s the thought that counts.

08 was a really big year for my personal life.  I got married and moved across the country.  I’ve started making new friends in a new place and tried to challenge myself to expand beyond my social comfort zone.  It is my hope that 09 is as big for my professional life as 08 was for my personal life.  Therefore my 09 goals are mostly of a professional nature.  I hope to come back to this post in a year and see that I’ve accomplished what i list here.

  • Deep involvement in a volunteer activity, ideally with an international organization
  • Create at least one product that has active and passionate users
  • Build a local product team
  • Run an active RIA user group
  • Do another century bike ride
  • Read more: ~A book a month, broaden topics beyond technical ones :)

some of these goals are loftier that others, but I hope that writing them down will help to keep me on task and focused on what is important for this year.  I just want to add to the ‘goes w/o saying’ category: Keeping in better touch with my family and supporting sarah through her internship this summer regardless of where it is.

Happy 2009 everyone!

Embedit.in

My brother’s company, Increo, just released a new product called embedit.in.  It’s a competitor to Scribd and gives you a really easy way to embed documents in your website.  Way better than forcing a download for something that you really don’t want to have to download.

They got a nice review here:

http://thenextweb.com/2008/12/23/embed-any-file-or-url-with-embeditin/

Check it out.  hope it’s useful!

Coworking. Poised to take off

About a month ago I started working at Carrboro Creative Coworking located in Carrboro, NC which is basically a part of Chapel Hill.  My experience so far has been really great and I have a few thoughts on why coworking is such a great idea and how I think it can grow in coming years.

Work-Life Equilibrium

For the first two months i was living in North Carolina I was working from home.  Although my office was comfortable and work schedule flexible, the time I spent working was (paradoxically) greater yet less productive.  I’m not the sort of person who had problems motivating myself to work, so getting distracted was not the problem.  I started to realize that separating work and life is not only good for your personal life, it is also good for your work life.  When I was at home, in the same environment every day, it is hard to find inspiration.  I don’t mean inspiration in a grand, snobby, artistic sense.  Just in the sense that seeing different people, places, and things every day stimulates my brain to think in new ways.  This is critically important to me in my job, and I’m sure it is for many others

It’s the People

No big surprise here.  Being in an environment where you can meet other people who have different ideas and different life experiences makes you better.  It makes you think more broadly.  It gives you an opportunity to make serendipitous business connections.  It gives you a channel to hear your thoughts outside your own head.  Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, having an opportunity to interact with people on a daily basis gives a more rich and balanced life.

Coworking. 10 years from now

So it’s pretty obvious that I’m a big fan of Coworking.  It’s a really great concept and I think if it is able to overcome a few challenges (mostly in the realm of marketing), it is really poised to take off

In my opinion coworking will grow because

  1. A globalized, virtually connected world will create many more ‘work from home’ type jobs
  2. Certain industries (lets say journalism for example) might actually benefit from have a more distributed workforce if they can find a cost effective way to have offices (or coworking locations) in different places

Coworking as a industry has two main marketing challenges that i see

  1. I think the name is not obvious.  When i describe coworking to friends i have started to refer to it as just ‘shared office’ or ‘renting a desk’.  I get a lot of blank stares when i say coworking.
  2. The real benefits of coworking are the intangibles that i list above.  Although possible, it is harder to ‘sell’ these benefits because they are not easily directly measurable

Overall, I think coworking is great and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this industry which is currently growing organically in different locations, begins to see a real explosion, perhaps big enough to support a larger regional or event national chain of offices.

Our President

Inspiring. Honest. Clear. Unifying. Respectful. Tough. Balanced. Leader…

Congratulations Obama.  Congratulations America.

Out of many we are one

Obama Rally in Greensboro

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We just got back from an Obama rally in Greensboro.  It was a lot of fun.  The speeches from Obama and Biden were nothing extraordinary or groundbreaking, but it was just amazing how many people were there!  I think the most inspiring thing of the whole morning was just seeing how many people from so many different walks of life are getting excited about our country again.

I hope that for all of our sake this energy can be sustained and directed for positive change.  While Obama can inspire, it is the people at the rally who need to be the real agents of change.  I hope that we (those at the rally) can channel this passion not just toward one man, but towards the difficult problems of our times