The Big 3-3 And What This Last Year Has Meant To Me

Happy 33!

First question, when did I hit 30? Second question, am I really 33 already? According to my Facebook wall, random texts from Congo and future phone calls from friends and family it’s true so who’s to say otherwise? Ok, I’ll admit it — I’m creeping into my mid-30s. I guess the only thing that’s good about this whole “getting older” thing is that this past year was most likely one of the most positively transitional times of my life. Meaning, even though there was plenty of struggle for me in the past 365 days (you have no idea), last year was amazing to experience and I feel more blessed now than ever. In other words, I’m pretty sure I’m in my prime.

So what are some of the thing that have made my last year so valuable to me? I’m sure I could write a million things and go page after page but none of us really want that. We’re all busy people with limited time, which is why I’m happy to give you a Cliff Notes version instead.

To all of my friends and family who have been there for me over the past year, you’ll never have any idea what your love and support has meant to me. I love you and I hope you already knew that without me having to tell you in a blog. Moving on…

Learning what loving someone really means. There are plenty of ways to show that you love someone but the most powerful way is by doing what you know is right and fighting for what you believe. Always keeping someone happy isn’t loving them. Being honest, sacrifice and never letting go is love to the fullest.

Studying the Bible. I’m a strong believer that if I’m going to put my faith in Jesus Christ then I had better know what I’m signing up for. The Bible is the center of following Christ and although I feel a strong spiritual connection I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the word. To learn more about it I’ve been going to Bible Study Fellowship in SF for the past few months and it’s been a great way to dig deeper into my faith.

Becoming a morning person, for real. I’ve never been a morning person but as I got older and had more responsibility I felt like getting up early was the only option for squeezing in everything into one day. It’s been tough and I don’t always stick with it (like when I was in Indiana for the holidays) but I’m not well aware of the amazing benefits getting up at the crack of dawn and it’s becoming more of a habit every day.

Meeting Mo. Wow, what can I say about Mo other than the fact that he’s been one of the biggest blessing’s I’ve ever had in my life. If you would have told me that becoming friends with someone who’s homeless would end up shaping me into a man more than everything else in my life combined I would have called you crazy. The work that God is doing on Mo is nothing short of a miracle and how the relationship has challenged me personally isn’t too far behind. Of course, the fact that our story went viral all over the world was pretty crazy, too. That’s still hard to believe.

Realizing the value of real relationships. My entire life it’s been really easy for me to become friends with lots of people. What hasn’t always been easy for me is creating strong, personal and meaningful relationships with the people in my life who really matter most. This past year of my life I’ve focused on taking the time and making the effort to show those who mean the most to me how much I love them and all I hope is that they’ve noticed.

My connection to Congo. I’m really not sure how it happened but somehow, someway I’ve developed an amazing connection to Congo and the amazingly beautiful people who live there. Traveling there for the second time last year was an incredible experience for me and the time I was able to spend with my Congolese brothers and sisters is something I hold very dear to my heart. If you haven’t seen me dancing while in Congo I suggest you take a look, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I have a feeling my story with Congo isn’t close to being over and I can’t wait to see where God takes it next.

Seeing isocket grow into a real company. A little over three years ago I was the first employee at a small, unknown online advertising startup called isocket. I had no idea what I was doing and I knew nothing about the online advertising world but for some reason I felt like what we were doing was important and that our fearless leader, John Ramey knew exactly what he was doing. A couple rounds of funding and about fifteen more employees later we’re building a business that’s leading what’s predicted to be a multi-billion dollar market.

Killing caffeine. I’ve tried to kick the habit of downing Big Gulps full of Dew, brewing K-cups and heading to Starbucks but I always came back. A month or so I ago I decided for the last time that I’m done with caffeine and this time I’m sticking with it. When I’m in shape I don’t need it, I don’t like feeling dependent on it and it only makes me more anxious and over-energized anyway. If you know me you already know I’ve got plenty of energy to burn so cutting out caffeine was really the only option for me.

Dedicating time to writing. I guess this is becoming more apparent as I write more posts like this one you’re reading right now but I’ve been writing more than ever over the past year (and especially over the past couple of months). It’s a great way for me to get my thoughts together and I’m a believer in the power of sharing experiences with others as a way to help them with the things they’re dealing with in their lives. We were never meant to go through things along and getting my thoughts and experiences out to the world can only help.

I’m sure I missed some stuff but these are the handful of things that immediately came to mind when thinking back at all of the awesome things that have happened to me during my thirty-second year on this crazy planet of ours. I’m feeling great going into my thirty-third and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

If you have anything you would like to share with me on my birthday, I’d love to hear from you. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop in and spend time in my little corner of the internet and I can only hope that your past year was as fun and fulfilling as mine. Happy birthday to me and we’ll catch up soon.


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Understanding Awkward


Feeling awkward is part of life. It’s not a part of life we all necessarily enjoy but it’s always there, waiting for us. Feeling a sense of awkwardness is often something that isn’t welcomed or pursued and there are more ways than ever to avoid it. We don’t like it when we get caught off guard by something that we don’t expect an we want to control our lives as much as possible.

Technology has played a bit part is helping us stay away from awkwardness. If you don’t want a stranger talking to you just throw in your headphones. If you don’t know the number that’s coming up on your caller ID then don’t answer it. If you’re going to flake out and not doing something you said you were going to then simply send a text message so you don’t have to call. If you don’t have certain beliefs then don’t ever go to a website or watch a TV station that thinks something different. There are plenty of ways to avoid the awkwardness in life but I’m not sure that’s the best thing for us.

I’ve come to realize that sometimes the awkwardness is necessary and that we shouldn’t always try to avoid it. The older I get the more structured my life becomes and the less awkward I tend to feel day-to-day. I get in the groove of my job and the people I see and the things that I do. I tend to move towards optimizing my life in a way that keeps the awkward away as much as possible. This isn’t how I want to live and I’m starting to understand the positive role of awkwardness in my life.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and have come to realize just how valuable it is to make my way through the awkward to find the good stuff on the other side. There’s this incredible amount of value in sticking through something even though initially it feels a little uncomfortable. This is usually the feeling when trying out new things like my Muay Thai class that I felt really awkward at. It’s a feeling you get when you first start working out and getting in shape. It’s also a feeling you get when talking to random people for the first time. But after you see them again and again consistently pretty soon that awkwardness goes away and before you know it you have yourself a new friend.

I guess all I’m saying is that I feel like we should all understand (and even embrace) awkward just a little bit better than we do now. Who knows what great things might happen if you can make your way through it.


The Second Week Struggle Of Getting In Shape

You're almost there

Last week was both awesome and tiring for me. I finally got back into the groove of going to bed early, waking up early to run and I even threw in my first Muay Thai lesson to mix things up a bit. All of that madness combined with work, relationships and everything else I’m doing during the week resulted in me being exhausted by the time the weekend arrived. But I’ve done this long enough to realize that this feeling isn’t going to last and that the amount of mental exhaustion I felt last week is going to be matched by physical exhaustion this week.

I’m not really sure why this happens but there’s really no getting around it when you’re building up your mind and muscles to get into shape. The first week is exciting, fun and more tiring that you’re used to. When you’re just getting back into shape you struggle more with the mental than the physical. Finding the time for working out and getting up early/following your schedule is the hardest thing to get used to in the beginning. The physical side is just along for the ride and runs on the endorphins and excitement that comes along with following through with your workout plans. It’s an amazing feeling.

Once you make it through the first week you’re going to feel tired but accomplished. The first week is over and you did what you planned to do, which feels amazing. But then comes the second week, which is where it’s easy to fall out of the habit that’s not quite started yet.

When you workout for your second week it’s going to be a little bit easier to handle the mental stuff like going to bed on time and following your schedule like you’re supposed to. The physical side of things aren’t going to be so easy. Your muscles will be sore, you’ll feel more achey than usual and just overall your body isn’t going to feel like keeping the workout train moving. This isn’t going to last long and it’s like your body’s last way of really making sure you’re in this thing for the long term. Your body wants to be in shape but it’s not easy on either of you and this is it’s way of keeping you in check.

How serious are you? Are you going to push through the second week? That’s all your body really wants to know and if you answer yes, you’ll find that the third week and beyond will only get easier. You’ll be pushing yourself harder and farther but you’ll be ready for it and your body will keep up with whatever you give it. The human body is amazing that way and before you know it you’re up to the magic 5 mile mark and after that you’ll be running half marathons with no problem. Personally, week 3 can’t get here soon enough but I need to make it through this second week of struggling first. But the good thing is I know it’ll be worth it and now I hope you now realize that, too.

Shutting Off The Snooze Button

Snooze It One More Time

If you’re like me you wake to the alarm on your cell phone. Long ago are the days of having a clock sitting next to your bed whose only role in this world is to wake you up in the morning and tell you the time before you go to bed. These days we all walk around with, talk and text on and do everything else digital with our alarm clocks these days and they’re rarely out of reach. That changed fast, didn’t it?

But even though the death of the alarm clock removed it from our bedside it still left behind it’s most feared, hated and loved functionality – the snooze button. For some crazy reason the snooze button has leaped it’s way the digital age and is still a major component of any of today’s alarm clocks that now live inside of our cell phones.

Just like most of you I use the snooze button and I use it a lot. Another ten minutes here, ten minutes there and before you know it I find myself literally jumping out of bed, showering twice as fast and sprinting to just barely catch the train. I know I can’t blame everything on the snooze but using it became my drug of choice in the morning and man was I addicted. As we all know, the additional sleep isn’t good sleep but it’s the feeling of getting to go back asleep that get’s us high.

A couple of weeks ago I felt like my struggle with the snooze was getting so ridiculous I did the only think I felt I could — I went cold turkey and removed it. I didn’t even know it was possible but for some reason I was looking through my phone settings and noticed that there was a way to completely shut off the snooze. Without even thinking about it I changed the option and instantly the opportunity to snooze was completely removed from my life.

It was a good feeling although I did feel a sense of fear when I did it. Would I be able to handle this in the mornings? What would happen to me if I didn’t hit snooze a couple of times? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have access to snooze and wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. The one thing I did know is that it was going to make me get up or there would be some serious consequences, which I actually liked. There’s nothing like forcing a habit.

Now that it’s been a couple of weeks without the snooze I can honestly say that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m still not hopping out of bed full of energy and positivity when I hear the alarm but once I shut it off I know that’s it. There’s no going back to sleep or who knows when I’ll wake up again. I like the feeling of having to get up and not having a choice. It’s forcing a good habit on myself and so far, so good. I haven’t overslept yet and it’s only getting easier to get up.

If you’re addicted to the snooze you might want to go cold turkey, too. I’m not sure there’s any other way to make sure it doesn’t creep into your mornings anymore. If you give this a shot, please let me know and good luck, the snooze-less world isn’t for everyone.

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The Magic of Waking Up Early

Waking up early is awesome

Waking up early in the morning is magic. It gives me the time to exercise, to think, to take out my dog and to grab something to eat. I know I can wake up early, it’s just a matter of whether or not I’m going to do the things that it takes to make it happen on a consistent basis. Waking up early once is easy but waking up early consistently is a challenge. Not a challenge you can’t overcome though. Here’s how I do it.

If you want to wake up early you need to rewind the clock a little bit. You need to pay attention to the time leading up to the most important part of becoming an early riser and that’s being an early to bed-er (or whatever you want to call it). When you go to bed be sure to think about and recognize other things that are keeping you away from some good shut-eye. What are you spending your time doing before bed? (usually it’s watching TV, surfing the web, reading a book or something similar).

Figure out what you’re doing around that time and if it’s not something you need in your life, cut it out and gain an hour of sleep. Believe me, an hour more of sleep will benefit your life much more than an hour of Netflix/Instagram/Facebook/YouTube. Nothing in history has been more detrimental to a good nights sleep than the little screens we carry around with us. I struggle with this all the time and when all I want to do is watch another 48 minutes of Breaking Bad on Netflix I need to recognize that getting sleep is better for me in the long run than seeing Walter White and Jesse Pinkman sling some ice. Sounds easy, but hard to do.

If you do start waking up early I suggest doing some type of exercise once you’re up. This doesn’t need to be anything super-human and can be as simple as doing some push-ups and sit-ups on your living room floor or taking your dog for a walk. What this does is wake up your brain a bit and gets you moving, thinking and ready for your day of work (or whatever you have to do that day). Personally I feel like doing this can take the place of drinking a couple cups of coffee in the morning and it has much longer staying power.

If you’re not already into exercising and getting up early you might want to tackle getting up early first before throwing in some exercise, but there’s no reason why you can’t do both. Also, be ready to be more tired than you usually are during the day for a week or two while your body gets used to it but don’t give up if/when you start feeling this way. Your body and mind will resist the change but if you can make it through for 14 days or so you’ll thank yourself later.

If done the right way, waking up early will make you more productive, will put you in a better mood and can help get you in shape. I know all of this and still struggle with getting in the groove of making it a habit but once I do there’s nothing better. If you have any questions about how to make this happen please feel free to ask and good luck with becoming a morning person. It’ll happen before you know it.

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Giving Up Your Plans For Life

I love to feel like I have control of a situation. I like to have my calendar booked during the week to maximize productivity and I like to have my weekend planned out. But just because that’s what I like doesn’t mean that’s what actually happens.

Sometimes it doesn’t happen because I’m being lazy which really bothers me. But other times I have things planned and for one reason or another life gets in the way. You know, like real life. The part of life that we don’t control and a lot of times the part that’s the most exciting, if we let it be.

The past weekend, for example, I had planned to get all kinds of things done around. I wanted to help one of my friends get his paintings online, I wanted to buy some new running clothes, I had a couple of birthday parties to go to and I also wanted to figure out a better way to manage my daily contacts (I’ll explain this one later). Unfortunately none of these things got done but I didn’t let that frustrate me and pull me away from the life stuff that was happening in it’s place.

That life stuff ended up being Mo going back to the hospital after getting released only five hours earlier. Me and my friend’s original plans were to go grab him from the hospital, get some food and then do whatever we had left on our calendars for that day. Our plans ended up being going to eat and then taking him right back to the emergency room.

Spending several hours with Mo and another friend in the hospital wasn’t exactly what I had imagined doing for the day but I didn’t let the fact that my plans were changed affect the way I felt and acted when Mo needed some help. Being able to be in the moments of life is one thing but being in the moments without being anxious or thinking about what you’re not doing is another.

Life decided to change up my plans and now Mo’s back home and healthy (for now). Like I was telling my friend, it’s not the Saturday that I would have planned but it ended up being a lot of fun anyway.


Setting Monthly Goals

For the first time, ever I set some monthly goals for myself. I had some time on the flight back from Indiana with no wifi so I figured I should do something productive with my time. I’ve never been great at setting goals for myself but I know how important they are to have when trying to get specific things done.

I didn’t get super specific with my goals but I wanted to at least have enough meat that they meant something to me. The goals include both things I want to accomplish at my job and outside of it so it pretty much touches all parts of my life.

Since this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this I have no idea what I’m going to be able to get done and what will sit there staring at me all month long. That’s why I just need to throw them out there, keep them in mind throughout the month and see what I can/can’t do. At the end of the month I’ll have a better idea of what I’m capable of handling the following month and I can adjust from there.

I’m not going to post my specific goals this time around but they have to do with things like working out, relationships with specific people in my life and updating my wardrobe. Some are obviously harder than others but getting them written down is the first step to making something happen.

If you’ve never written out some monthly goals for yourself I would highly suggest it. It feels good just to know that I’m thinking about the things I need to work on in the next thirty days. Now I just need to put them into action.


Killing Caffeine

More caffeine, please.

That’s it, I’m done with caffeine. We’ve had an on and off relationship for a while now and I’ve done my fair share of abuse in the past but I think our daily relationship is over for now.

This doesn’t mean I’ll think any less of your for getting your caffeine fix. In fact I’ll probably be the one longingly looking at you and your fresh cup of coffee or can of Mountain Dew, dreaming of a day when I could handle all that the lovely little drug has to offer. The fact is I just can’t do it and thinking that I can handle it only ends in disaster.

Ok, I guess there’s still a little bit of space for a little artificial pick-me-up in my life but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. For now I’m only letting myself enjoy what the world of caffeine has to offer on Sunday and even then I’m going to limit it to decaf during church and one Mountain Dew afterward at the gas station with my homie Fernando. To be honest though I’m not sure how long this will last either. I don’t need it and it will most likely end up spiraling out of control into the rest of the days of the week like it has before. If that happens it’s got to be cold turkey for me. Straight collllld turkey, yo.

Sorry caffeine, we’ve had some good times together but this is what I feel like I have to do. There are plenty of people out there who love what you have to offer but you’re just not the one for me. It’s not you, it’s me and don’t worry, I still want to be friends.


Chasing The Dragon

Today I was talking to Mo about living on the street and he pulled out a term that I had never heard before. We got on the topic about drugs and more specifically smoking crack (which Mo has done plenty of times before). He told me all about where people buy it (in the Tenderloin, of course), how much it costs, how it’s smoked and what the high is like.

Apparently it’s a very short but powerful high that hits you instantly when you breathe in the smoke. He said the actual high is usually less than a minute long and once you take the hit you immediately feel like you need to take another one or you’ll start to crash very quickly. If you don’t get high again you’ll start tweaking out soon after and will get the jitters while you frantically search for ways to get back to the feeling you just had. Mo called this feeling and need to have another high “Chasing The Dragon” and after looking up the term online here’s a great definition that I found for chasing the dragon on

This term is a bit more complicated than merely “smoking opium”. It starts when you have your first high, the world is peaceful, everything is perfect, you’re numb, but in the best way possible. But, soon, it starts wearing off. Fast. Your mind races, you’re pulled out of your dream world. You crave the drug more and more, wanting to feel the same way as you did on your first high. You go to the dealer and buy the same amount you had the first time, and smoke. Still feels good, but not as good as first time. You go and buy more. Closer, but not quite there. You’re stuck, you don’t know what to do. You want to go back to that little dream world and stay forever, but your body is already developing a tolerance. You panic. You use all your money to buy more and more and more, but still, not the same as that first time. You realize that you have no more money, so you start selling your things, pawning whatever could get you that next bag. Still, nothing compared to what you had on that first, magical time. So, you’re broke and own nothing. But you don’t care, all you care about is getting back to the first high. You start stealing, doing “favors”, whatever gets you the money for the attempt. Your life becomes a living hell, all in search of a repeat of the first high. That’s chasing the dragon.

Mo is very open with his past drug use and he’s such a blessing for other people who are in a bad situation that he can speak truth into. The world that he lives in is such a different place with so many different problems that most of us can’t even comprehend. I feel like he can (and has already started to) have a big impact in the lives of other homeless in San Francisco and it’s been amazing to be part of the story that God has just started to write about his life.

Also, I wanted to mention that there’s a book called Chasing The Dragon that’s about a woman whose ministry was helping drug addicts and prostitutes in Hong Kong. Yeah, I bought it.


Everyone Needs To Learn How To Use Technology

I don’t care what your major is in college or what you’re into. Whether you like to take apart cars, do accounting, cook cupcakes or take care of animals there’s one thing that you’re going to have to be good at — technology. Are you going to be a programmer or engineer? Most likely not, but whatever job you end up doing I can guarantee that not only will you be using technology but you’ll be using it a lot.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen our economy lately and the types of jobs that are now in high demand but let me drop some knowledge on ya — they all touch technology. I live in San Francisco in the middle of Silicon Valley and I can tell you that we sure as heck haven’t noticed any drop in jobs or a lack of demand for businesses hiring (we’re hiring fifteen people at isocket). It’s insane out here and it’s only because software is eating the world. Either you’re doing the eating or you’re being eaten. It’s that simple.

The jobs that were once the foundation of America are no longer relevant and our economy has completely shifted. It’s not hard to see this trend of technology taking over and it’s been happening at an accelerated rate ever since the Internet came along more than ten years ago. This is why I’m seriously blown away by the fact that every person in this entire country who has the means to do so isn’t learning how to be part of it. Why are people not learning (or being taught) technology?

It’s been a while since I’ve been in college but from what I can tell it’s the same thing for most schools these days. You come in as a freshman, take a bunch of classes that don’t really matter and then after a while you might take a few that actually provide some value to you once you’re in the real world. I know that colleges need to make their money and this isn’t going to change any time soon. But this doesn’t stop me from asking why in the world wouldn’t every, single person who goes to college not learn some type of technology that will benefit them in the future?

I’m not talking about Microsoft Word and PowerPoint — those are a given. There are literally third graders in Palo Alto who can put together a PowerPoint and edit a video better than I can. I’m not even kidding. I’m talking about creating apps, writing on a blog, understanding real technology and being able to at least wrap your head around what’s going on under the hood. Every student in college should write a blog, every student should be able to create an app and when they graduate from college they shouldn’t even need to send out a resume. Employers should be able to see what they’re interested in, see their work and get a feel for what type of employee they would be just by seeing what they have online.

Twilio, one of the fastest growing startups in the world would agree with me, they make every employee create a working Twilio app when they’re hired. If you’re in accounting you make an app and if you’re the new VP of Marketing you make an app. Everyone makes an app and it’s awesome. The most popular app that’s ever been built by a Twilio employee was the brilliant idea of my buddy Michael, who was their PR guy at the time. Love it.

One last thing to prove my point, I’ve had a wide variety of jobs in my lifetime. I’ve sold computers at BestBuy, helped with IT at a construction company and I’m now helping build an online advertising startup. With all of these jobs there’s been one thing that’s helped me really stand out and that’s the fact that I know my stuff when it comes to technology.

Everyone should be learning technology and this needs to happen now before we’re all left behind (or eaten). Nom. Nom.