Thoughts on the On-Demand Service Economy Part I


via Harvest Scoop

via Harvest Scoop

I am a huge fan of the on-demand service economy. I take advantage of it on a daily basis. It saves me time and makes my life easier, so I’m fine paying a premium.  And because there’s a growing number of people like me, more and more of these services are popping up. But as great as these services are for consumers like myself, are they actually great for its employees? I’m afraid that these startups aren’t sustainable because their economic model won’t be able to do two things. One, provide their employees a living wage. Secondly, I don’t think many of these companies will be able to withstand an economic downturn (my thoughts on that later).

I’m breaking this post up into two posts. The first half is going to be opinion and experience using different on-demand service apps. The second part is going to be a high level look at the economics of these services and their long-term viability as sustainable businesses.

What Apps Do I Use?

Like I said, I use many of these apps on a regular basis. I’m going to divide the list into apps I love and recommend and apps that I use but don’t love. Plus the one app I fucking hate.

Apps I Love:

Uber/Lyft – I’ve written about these two apps extensively, so you can read my full thoughts here. But I’ll sum it up for you like this. No matter what kind of bad PR either of these companies get, I love them both. They have made my life infinitely easier and I will continue to use them.

Instacart – Since I don’t have a car, I will occasionally use Instacart. The only reason why I don’t use them more is that they don’t deliver Trader Joes. TJs is my go-to spot, so I shop there the majority of the time. I use Instacart when I’m injured (which has been too much this year) or when I want heavy things delivered (beverages and any melons are not pleasant to carry).

Seamless/Eat24 – If you’re not familiar with either Seamless or Eat24, it’s simple. Order delivery through the app. Store your delivery address and payment info and then browse all the restaurants in your area (that have deals with each app, which is plenty), and go through the entire menu at your leisure. Click on your desired order and bam! Your food has been ordered. No finding your credit card, no trying to figure out what restaurant delivers in your area, it’s all right there in the app.

via Seamless

via Seamless

FancyHands – I can’t wait for the day where I can afford to hire an assistant to run my life. No more double booked meetings. She can take care of everything. Until then, I use FancyHands. FancyHands is a personal assistant app. You can ask an army of assistants to complete a variety of different tasks for you, mostly administrative. I use FancyHands for two primary uses. One is research. Like I had someone find me 10 bloggers who blogged about parenting. Or I had someone copy all the names on a screenshot into a spreadsheet. The best task I’ve ever requested is have the assistant call a customer service line, deal with all the BS, and patch me in when I finally got to talk to the rep. Definitely a great app.

Soothe.comSoothe is Uber for massage. I don’t use this app often (full disclosure, they were a sponsor for my Mac and Cheese Invite) but I love it. The reason I don’t use it more is because I invest disposable income into my business (I guess it’s not disposable then). But sometimes you just have to “treat yo-self.” Soothe allows you to request a massage therapist to come to your place. Payment/tip is all taken care of through the app.

Apps I Use, Indifferent: 

Postmates - The only reason why I don’t love Postmates is that it’s expensive. It used to be a $13 delivery charge. The last time I used it, it was something like $6 fee plus a percentage of my total purchase. So that’s why I don’t use it more often. But it did save my ass when I fucked up my knee. I was in so much pain at work and could barely walk. So I used Postmates to have someone deliver me an ice pack, pain killers, and a knee brace to my office. Totally worth it.

via Homejoy

via Homejoy

Homejoy - The only reason why my apartment is presentable to women is because of Homejoy. I’m a mess. That’s why I can’t live with roommates. They all end up hating me. But Homejoy keeps my place spiffy clean. Their prices have gone up, but I can’t complain. If I think someone does such a good job that I don’t think I could clean that well, it’s worth it.

The “Fuck you, go out of business” app: 

Handy - I tried out Handy (formerly Handybook) because I saw a Facebook ad for a $19 cleaning. They force you to sign up for a subscription right off the bat (and I later learned you have to CALL to cancel). I already hate it. But my place needs cleaning and I read that AirBnb had a partnership with them. Worth a $19 bet in my book. Awful.

First of all, they sent a guy to clean my place. I know this will sound misogynistic, but I don’t trust men to clean. I think women do a far superior job due to their attention to detail (this comment will probably get me in trouble at some point). Every cleaner I’ve had was a woman and she did a fabulous job. This guy didn’t do a great job.

First of all, he was late. Nearly 30 minutes late. I was going to work late because of this appointment so waiting for 30 minutes is a real inconvenience. That could have been forgiven if he had done a great job. Except he was shit. I could have cleaned the apartment better than he did. He never finished cleaning my toilet and he missed a ton of spots dusting. I left the vacuum out, but he never used it. Fucking nightmare. Never again.

Next week I’ll go into my thoughts on how sustainable these companies and services are. In the meantime, ping me if you have any in-depth questions about my experiences with these apps. If you’re interested in signing up, I can send you an invite for a discount if you’d like.

[First Image Courtesy of Harvest Scoop]

Am I a Feminist?


Feminism. My first thought when I hear this word is an eccentric woman, who makes a big fuss with every single issue related to women’s rights. I’d say my feelings toward this first reaction leans towards annoyance. Essentially, I have a negative connotation with feminism, which is unfortunate because I consider myself an ally to feminists.

A few weeks ago Emma Watson gave an eloquent speech to the UN regarding women’s rights. She introduced the #HeforShe campaign. It’s an awareness campaign that calls for men to unite and partner with women to fight gender inequality. Instead of the traditional he vs. she fight, it rallies men to join women and speak up towards gender equality.

Then last week, a viral video caused another stir. It had a woman walking down the streets of New York with a hidden camera. The camera depicted the unsolicited and inappropriate behavior men display towards an unsuspecting woman walking down the street. This video, which ignited quite the debate on my Facebook feed, further highlights the need for education. This post is one tiny step toward that education.

Remove The Negative Connotation

Let’s reference my first paragraph. I said that the word “feminism” has a negative connotation to me. I’m being honest about this because I think this is a part of the problem. It’s hard to rally people behind a cause when people don’t want to associate themselves with the word that describes it. I know women who don’t want to be called a feminist for this very reason. So why would men want to jump on board? I don’t have a solution, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. Either we need to desensitize everyone to the word feminism, or we need to come up with a new phrase.

Stop Being Idiots

Change starts from the top. I believe that. That’s why we need today’s leaders to take the baton and start leading by example. That means we have to stop having executives at large companies make dumb ass comments like these:

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.” – Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO 

“Call me opportunistic; I thought I could get better people with less competition because we were willing to understand the skills and capabilities that many of these women had…And [women were] still often relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender.” – Evan Thornley, Co-Founder LookSmart

How can we make real change in the world if these are the men that are leading the way? The world needs better role models. Tomorrow’s leaders won’t be better if today’s leaders don’t set a better example.

Fight the Small Battles

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has publicly stated that he’s a feminist. That’s great. We need more popular and prominent male figures making this stance. But like the #HeforShe campaign states, we need more than that. We need men to fight the small battles everyday. So whenever you hear someone putting women down, stereotyping them, or anything else. Call the person out. They’ll probably say it’s just a joke and you should chill. Tell them it’s not a funny joke. Make a difference, even if it’s with just one person.

I’m still uneasy calling myself a feminist. Perhaps that means I’m still part of the problem? Regardless of what I call myself, I believe in equal rights for women (and I truly believe that women will take over the world in my lifetime). I’m going to do my part to fighting for these equal rights. This blog post is just the first step. I urge you to do what you can to make a difference. If you’re ever out with me and hear me say something contradictory to this promise, call me out, because that’s what I’m going to do.

Podcasts I Listen To


fresh_air_617_347I’ve really gotten into podcasts recently. So much so, I started my own. You can listen to my first episode here. There are several reasons why I love podcasts. One, they are really informational. Second, I don’t have to watch them. I can do other stuff while listening to them. Even watching a podcast video can be a little distracting. Now that I’ve become so addicted to them, I want to share with you the podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis. I know when I first got into podcasts, I had friends offer me suggestions of podcasts they listen to, which I found really helpful.

I listen to podcasts on my way to work and on the way home. I subscribe to many, but listen to a core few. So I’m going to break down my list of subscriptions and the podcasts I love.

My Weekly Listens

NPR – Story of the Day

I like these because the stories are interesting and quick. I don’t have to invest too much to listen, unlike others on this list.

NPR – Fresh Air

Teri Gross has the voice of an angel. Getting interviewed by her is on my bucket list. No joke.

Rachel Maddow

I just got into her podcast. I’ve always like her views, but I don’t have cable, so I never saw her show. Podcasts = problem solved.

Serial

This was highly recommended to me. I had troubled paying attention to it at first, but it’s a really interesting story. I have to be in a certain mindset to listen to it though.

Guys We F****d

I was just browsing the top podcasts and I saw this podcast. Apparently I’m easily swayed by sex, because I subscribed immediately. These two gals are funny and real. Recommend for both men and women.

The Truth and Iliza

Ever since I heard her standup routine about Pinterest, I’ve been hooked. She’s a funny women and has interesting conversations with her comedic guests.

StartUp

Soo good. A must listen. Alex Blumberg offers a very unique and honest perspective about starting his podcasting company. Did I mention it’s really good?

Pardon the Interruption

I loved PTI since I was in college. But I haven’t watched it for years since I don’t have cable. Once I found out the show came in podcast form, it’s been a regular listen for me. I usually listen to the latest podcast on my way home.

The Economist

I claim to read the Economist, but I don’t. But I do listen to the podcast. Again, I like it for its short episodes. Obviously there’s great information that I can regurgitate later if I want to impress someone.

The Building Years Podcast

One of the co-hosts of this show is my dodgeball teammate, Justin Alexio. He’s the reason why I first took a listen to this podcast. But I listen to it religiously because it’s funny as hell. I catch myself laughing out loud. It could be the banter between Justin and his co-host, or it’s just the crazy stories their guests have. As shitty as their podcast art is, it’s worth listening to

The-Building-Years1

The Remaining List of Podcasts I Subscribe To

Slate’s Political Gabfest

NPR – Planet Money

The Young Turks

Product Hunt

NYRD Radio

We Are LA Tech

Rocketship

Growth Everywhere

The James Altucher Show

The New Yorker – Political Scene

Savage Lovecast

The Tim Ferriss Show

Freakonomics Radio

This American Life

 

 

 

A Lesson in Persistence from Abraham Lincoln


abraham-lincoln-quote

I’ve written about how hard entrepreneurship is and how we can learn from our failures. But let’s be real, failure and sadness happens to everyone, in every type of field. We’ve all dealt with our own demons, suffered through loss, and failed at many different things. But getting up is the difference between successful people and those with unfulfilled potential. That’s why I love the Japanese Proverb, “Fall seven times, get up eight.”

But every now and then, we get knocked down and it’s a little harder for you to get up. That’s ok. But if you need help taking a step in the right direction, I suggest you read this abridged version of Abraham Lincoln’s life.

Honest Abe is best known for being our 16th president. He emancipated the slaves and united a divided country. His impact on American history is nothing less than remarkable. But I don’t think Abraham Lincoln’s early life history has been well documented to the masses.

Here’s the quick rundown of the life of Abe Lincoln I found on Quora. It’s a great lesson in persistence. If you have a dream, don’t give up!

The Story of Abraham Lincoln

1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.

1818 His mother died.

1831 Failed in business.

1832 Ran for state legislature – lost.

l832 Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.

1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.

1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.

1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.

1840 Sought to become elector – defeated.

1843 Ran for Congress – lost.

1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.

1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.

1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.

1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.

1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – get less than 100 votes.

1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.

1860 Elected president of the United States.

Don’t give up. Ever. If you believe in your dream, you can make it come true.

Chris Sacca Interview


I’m super late with a post today. I got caught up working on my new podcast. (BTW: producing a podcast is more work than I anticipated.)

I have a lot of half written blog posts, but I don’t have the time to finish them tonight. So here’s one of my favorite entrepreneur interviews.

Kevin Rose does these great interviews he calls Foundation.kr with top notch entrepreneurs. He’s interviewed Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Elon Musk, Kevin Systrom, and more. The interviews focus more on the individual’s journey and what brought him/her to where they are now, rather than tactical tips like other interviews.

The videos are all worth a look, but the one with Chris Sacca is particularly great. Sacca might be best known for his early investment in Twitter, but he’s been a hustler his whole life. The greatest part of his story is when he tells the story about how he got into and out of $2 million in debt. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t his Twitter investment that got him out of that hole either.

I’ll have a full post for you next week, but until then, enjoy this interview.

What’s On Your Home Screen?


Every year Fred Wilson posts a screenshot of his phone’s home screen. It’s interesting to see what apps are important enough each year to earn the most valuable real estate on your phone…the home screen.

This is what I’m currently rocking on my home screen. I usually leave the top half with the default apps the phone comes with. Aside from Settings, I actually use the top two rows of apps quite often. The middle row, starting with Shazam, is where I download content (music fits in well here). I download songs from Shazam after I’ve tagged them, and I am quick to look up an app or song when someone mentions it to me.

The bottom three rows are the apps that I use most often. You can see there is a combination of social apps, utility apps, and media apps. HackerNode is the a mobile app (I don’t believe it’s an official app) for Hacker News, an aggregated news site by Y Cominbator. That’s the first site I look at in the morning, where I find the latest in tech. The ESPN app allows me to keep close tabs on sports scores, without having to actually watch the games. Evernote is where I recored all my notes and Uber is my default ridesharing app.

Take a particularly close look at my “hot zone.” The T shaped formation starting with Twitter and moving up, between Facebook to Snapchat.

I hold my phone in my left hand and navigate my phone with my thumb. So that T formation of four apps indicates the easiest area of my home screen I’m able to access very quickly. When I hold my phone, my thumb hovers over Twitter. So Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are my most accessible (and most opened) apps.

It’s not a completely scientific process, but this home screen works well for me. The order of my other screens is no where near as organized. I have no idea where other apps are past the home screen.

I wonder what will be on my home screen next year?

IMG_5669

Mac and Cheese Post Mortem


To date, I’ve hosted four Mac and Cheese Invites. The last, being the most ambitious of them all. Like any business, the Mac and Cheese Invite had humble beginnings. It started with about eight friends coming over to my apartment, bringing mac and cheese, and all of us voting on it. The next one had about 20 people. Then the third one kind of blew up. Seventy-five people RSVPed for a party at my one bedroom apartment! That was my a-ha! moment that my mac and cheese party could turn into a nice little side business.

The third mac and cheese party turned out to be a huge success. I had about 75 people show up to a 2,000 square foot loft downtown. About 20-30 people brought mac and cheese. It was a great time. Lots of laughs, even a noise complaint from the apartment across the street. But it was a private party, one that I completely financed (and lost money on). But I felt that I the mac and cheese party had market validation and I could take it to the next level and monetize it. Thus, my mac and cheese party turned into the Mac and Cheese Invite.

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

Mac and Cheese Invite #3 Spread

The fourth Mac and Cheese invite was just last week. It proved to be a much larger undertaking than I had expected. My vision and expectations for the event far exceeded my budget and skill set. I was completely in over my head, but that’s nothing new for me. Despite the apprehensions of a few friends (who are seasoned event planners), I forged ahead with my timeline. I was determined to make it happen, which is exactly what I did. Now that the fourth mac and cheese invite is over, I’d like to dissect the event, from planning to day of execution. This exercise will help me (and you) understand the positives and negatives, and where I can improve.

Carnitas Mac and Cheese

Carnitas Mac and Cheese

The Good

Let’s first focus on the positives. I learned how to produce an event! I created an event when I was 23 for 200 people, but I had a lot of help dotting all my eyes and crossing my tees. The Mac and Cheese Invite #4 was the first time I ever dealt with insurance, liquor licenses, and booking a real venue (i.e. not on AirBnb). I created a legit event that was in accordance with LA County law.

Secondly, I had sponsors! I hit the pavement and cold emailed dozens of businesses. I was looking for alcohol, prize, and general sponsors. I emailed every restaurant on LA Weekly’s list of top mac and cheeses in LA. The Edendale responded and was down to sponsor the competition’s prizes. After striking out on Linkedin for alcohol reps, my friend introduced me to a rep at Cisco Brewers, who ended up donating twelve, twelve-packs of their beer. I reached out to Soothe.com (Uber for massages) and they sent two massage therapists for the guests. Finally, I got my logo and marketing materials designed by Vult.us. Not bad for my first time getting sponsors.

Finally, I got Thrillist to write about the Mac and Cheese Invite! The Mac and Cheese Invite was named one of the 12 best events in LA for October. Not bad. I created an event that Thrillist wrote about and 60 people paid $30 to come to. That’s not a huge number, but that’s significant to me.

Competition Entires

Competition Entires

The Bad

Well, the most glaring problem I had was that I didn’t get enough people to come. I’m happy that 60 people came, but I was hoping for double that. At least. I wanted the Mac and Cheese Invite to become a big LA event. On top of the low attendance, I only had eight people bring mac and cheese, which was about a third of the mac and cheese that was brought to the third event. Why were these numbers so low? Because I charged $30 a person.

I don’t want to say I got greedy, but I started to focus too much on the money and not as much on the attendee experience. Thus, I was obsessed with covering my costs, which is why I charged so much to get in. Plus I was dead set on an open bar. I think this is what derailed the financials of the event.

Like I mentioned earlier, this was my first event I produced. I ran into so many issues that I had never thought of. Two million dollars of insurance coverage? Ugh. A venue? Those aren’t cheap. Even when you negotiate a lower rate, it’s still fucking expensive. Liquor license? You can’t just get one of those! You have to hire a bar/catering company that already has one, and they can get you a one day license. FUCK. Those three things were terribly expensive. But I was dead set on this event, with this format in mind. So I paid the necessary fees. But it drove up the cost to my attendees, which decreased interest. Ultimately, this is what stagnated the Mac and Cheese Invite’s growth.

BoumanBlog-Mac-Cheese-Judges

Who wants a taste?

The Solution

I’m a builder. I like to start things. I dive in, figure it out, and learn. The Mac and Cheese Invite is no different. What once started as a small gathering in my one bedroom apartment, it now an event that people were willing to pay $30 to get attend. But it’s not perfect yet. So how am I going to overcome the problems that I just outlined? Partner up.

I’ve learned (and still am learning) that you can’t do everything yourself. Success is predicated on teamwork and I needed a little help to make this event better. Enter the Edendale. Now this is just preliminary idea (with a verbal agreement), but partnering with the Edendale will eliminate all my major costs. Venue, insurance, and liquor license. Gone. Now I just have to get people to come. I can lower the fee to attend, I can make it free to people who make mac and cheese. I don’t have to pay for alcohol, it’s a cash bar. It all works out.

The Mac and Cheese Invite has definitely turned into something much more than I anticipated. I can’t say I hate it. It’s fun. It’s something that people love. It’s cool to be known as the mac and cheese guy. I’m happy with its growth and progress and I’m excited for its future. Thank you to everyone that has attended and supported the event.

Teach Your Children to Code


BoumanBlog-Young-Coder

via Donnie Ray Jones

This is a public service announcement to all my friends who have young children: Teach your children to code.

As a parent, you’re going to mess up, a lot. That’s ok. But one mistake you can’t afford to make is not making your child learn how to code. I don’t know if a lot of schools teach their students how to program, so if if your school doesn’t, it’s imperative that you teach them.

Here’s seven resources (off the top of my head) you can use to teach them to code. A few of them are free. You might not know how to code, but these programs clearly lay out learning how to code, step-by-step, so that your child will be able to teach herself.

Lynda.com

Codeacademy

Treehouse

Khan Academy 

Udemy

Udacity

Coursera

Why is it Important to Know How to Code?

via Marjan Krebelj

via Marjan Krebelj

I used to go back and forth on this subject. I used to think that it’s not imperative that every child learns to code because there will always be a need for other job skills. Society will always need salesman, marketers, writers, and more. We need an ecosystem of talents and if everyone has the same skill, it will be a less dynamic society. But I no longer think like that. I strongly feel that everyone from here on out should be able to code.

The reason is because the world is transforming. As Marc Andreessen says, “Software is eating the world.” We’re quickly moving into a society where if you can’t code, you will essentially be considered an unskilled worker.

Step back a few hundred years, the difference between the educated/upper class was the ability to read and write. Could you function in society without being able to read and write? Yes. But your options were limited and your upward mobility was greatly decreased. Consider coding the modern day equivalent of basic reading and writing. If you’re not teaching your kid to code, you’re not teaching them to read and write.

I Wish I Could Code

Part of my desire to write this post is that I’m having a hard time professionally because I can’t code. I have to pay people lots of money to make things for me, or I have to convince them to work for free (which I don’t like either). I’m a very independent person and I like being able to take control of things myself and just running with them. Unfortunately, because of my technical limitations, I’m unable to do this. My business has stalled (but not dead) because I can’t code. I can’t get funding unless I have someone technical on my team, but I can’t get my product to the point I need without someone technical. It’s extremely frustrating and I don’t want my child to experience this.

I’m not saying my future child is going to be a Mark Zuckerberg-like tech billionaire. But I want her to have options. Entry level developers are tech companies are bringing in at least $120,000 a year, if not more. Think about how many raises it takes most people to reach that level of pay?

San Francisco is a Glimpse Into the Future

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 10.09.00 PM

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at present-day San Francisco. San Francisco is the hub of technology innovation. Silicon Valley has made its way from the valley and into San Francisco proper. This migration has lead to more workings living in the city with high paying technology jobs. As a result, rents have increased to near ridiculous amounts (ok, they are ridiculous), that are only affordable by those working in tech. The rest of San Francisco, with the skills the average American possess, are being displaced because their wages are scaling with real estate.

The socio-economic disparity has gotten so bad, protests have formed all over the city. To quote one tech protestor’s response to Kevin Rose’s (Partner at Google Ventures) claim that he’s creating jobs, “You’re not, you’re creating jobs for five guys to sit in a rumpus room, doing yoga, and we’re serving you coffee.”

(BTW: You should watch this video of protestors in front of Kevin Rose’s home.)

Because these tech jobs have come in and made the quality of life so poor for the non-tech, reducing them to contract or service jobs, there is quite the tenuous relationship. There’s clearly bitterness and anger, which (in my opinion) stems from the fact that people can’t perform the jobs that pay well. I believe that this contention will only get worse in the future. Which side do you want your child on?

I’m obviously pro-tech, so you can take my PSA with a grain of salt. If you’re skeptical, please do some more research on your own and come to your own conclusions. But I strongly believe that if you don’t teach your kid how to code, whether or not her school formally does, you will be doing her a great disservice. Knowing how to code is going to be an essential skill for the next generation. Don’t let your child down.

[First Image Courtesy of Donnie Ray Jones]

[Second Image Courtesy of a Marjan Krebelj]

[Third Image Courtesy of a Craigslist Ad]

 

Thank You Mr. Jeter


BoumanBlog-Jeter-Batting

via Chris Ptacek

Derek Jeter. The Captain. The only man I’ve known to play shortstop for the New York Yankees closed out his illustrious career today at Fenway Park. It’s only fitting that he did it with a hit…leaving him with 3,465 career hits.

There isn’t much I can add to what everyone else has been saying. He’s a class act. He’s respectful and played the game it the right way. Perhaps above all, he was a role model off the field. These story lines have been repeated time and time again. Rather than chime in to the existing story, let me offer you what Derek Jeter meant to me.

BoumanBlog-Throwing

via Keith Allison

Currently, I root for the Brewers and my adopted home team, the Dodgers. But my first love was the Yankees. Yes, not many people know this because my love dissipated over the years for the home team. But when I was first learning what baseball was the names that popped up were Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra. All Yankees.  Of course I was going to become a Yankees fans. So while I will never be a Yankee fan, I will always have a bit of an affinity for the pinstripes, out of nostalgia and deference.

When Derek Jeter broke into the big leagues in 1996, I was in sixth grade. My love for the Yankees had past. I paid attention to the Brewers and home run boppers like Ken Griffey Jr and Albert Belle. But I was starting to lock down the shortstop position in little league. I had no idea who Derek Jeter was. My first recollection of him was when an announcer remarked about the two young, rookie shortstops in New York, like they would be city rivals for years to come: Derek Jeter and Rey Ordonez.

My Derek Jeter model, Rawlings Pro 15B glove

My Derek Jeter model, Rawlings Pro 15B glove

Over the next few years my baseball abilities matured. When I hit high school, it was clear that it was going to be my best sport. I needed a new glove at the start of high school. I needed a shortstop’s glove. A small glove that I could get the ball out of quickly. I searched Eastbay magazine for a glove that looked right. I wanted a black glove that showed all my fingers (not one that covers all your fingers except the index finger), and had weaved webbing. I also wanted it to be 11 inches. What I found was the Rawlings Pro 15B. It was perfect. An added bonus was that it was the signature glove of Derek Jeter. While most still used their little league gloves, my dad bought me my first (and only) genuine rawhide leather glove.

It might have been by coincidence that my taste was exactly like the Derek Jeter glove, but I instantly felt more of a connection to him. This was 1999-2000. The Yankees had just won the World Series back-to-back. It was pretty easy to call yourself a Derek Jeter fan then. But for some reason, that glove made me feel more connected to him. I know it’s dumb, but the thinking this glove was good enough for Derek Jeter made me love it even more. I went my entire high school career and one year of college baseball using that glove. To this day, I love that glove, and take it with me, whenever I move.

via Lawrence Fung

via Lawrence Fung

Even though Derek Jeter was never my all-time favorite player, I always admired him. The lessons he taught me extend well beyond baseball. He taught me you could be successful if you keep your head down and work hard. You don’t have to be loud to be a leader. Do things the right way, be respectful, and you’ll be respected.

It pains me that I’ll never get the opportunity to see Jeter play in person (he sat the day I came to Yankee Stadium), but I’m grateful that you’re the one iconic player of my generation. You’re the one who never let us down during the steroid era. You just kept your mouth shut and did what you do…play hard.

Thank you Derek Jeter for 20 years of Major League excellence.

 

[First Image Courtesy of Chris Ptacek]

[Second Image Courtesy of Keith Allison]

[Third Image Courtesy of Lawrence Fung]

Dive In and Figure It Out


via Sean Pritchard

via Sean Pritchard

“Fuck Yeah, or No!” That was a life philosophy that I shared with you a few months ago. It’s served me well over the years and I hope you’ve gotten value from it. Today I’d like to share another life principle that I follow: Dive in and figure it out.

No, I’m not branding a slogan similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”  “Dive in and figure it out” refers to my attitude toward starting things when I’m scared and unsure.

Before I started my first company, I was terrified at starting things I didn’t know how to do. I would pretend to do a lot of research, convincing myself I was educating myself to properly prepare myself for the next step. The reality was, I was scared and I was delaying the start. This quote from “How I Met Your Mother” perfectly sums up my feelings toward starting a company five years ago.

via ted-mosby.com

via ted-mosby.com

But then a funny thing happened. I dived in…and I figured it out.

Taking that first step is so hard. I’ve seen people struggle with it. I’ve urged friends to go for it. Why? Because I know it’s worth it. Since I first dove in, starting things has gotten easier (but execution is still hard).

Five years ago, I would have never started a software company. I don’t know how to code or design. I’m not an expert at product development. Yet, here I am, the founder of a software company. I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m doing it. I’m learning along the way. Some lessons are more expensive than others, but I keep moving. I keep learning. I push myself to make it work, and I’m figuring it out.

The dirty secret that no one ever tells you is that no one really knows what they’re doing/talking about. Yes, even these experts you see on TV or speaking at big conferences. Listen to them. They’re just making prognostications based on their opinions. How many times are they actually right? Much lower than you might think. But why are they considered a thought leader? They dive in, even when they’re not ready.

I really believe that every successful person has started their ventures before they were truly ready. It’s just like parenthood, you’re never ready. You can only dive in, do your best, and figure it out. Guess what? There have been a ton of really wonderful people born to parents who “weren’t ready.”

My niece Aya

My niece Aya

Everyone suffers from self-doubt. We all have fears. But those who really succeed are much better at not letting their fears hold them back. They dive in. They figure it out.

Since I’ve learned to just dive in and figure it out, I’ve been much happier. Yes, there is still a lot of anxiety and delusional laughter, but I get through it. It may not always be pretty, but once you get over starting something, you can focus solving actual problems.

What are you scared of? What’s holding you back? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter to chat, or email me first name last name at gmail.

[First Image Courtesy of Sean Pritchard]

[Second Image Courtesy of Ted-Mosby.com]