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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Typing 64 WPM And Waking Up At 5:30am

Whenever I set goals I tend to be really hard on myself when looking at the progress (or lack of) that I’ve made. I’m not sure why, but I feel like I should be able to achieve the goals I want faster than what is actually possible. This sets my expectations all wrong which then makes me feel like I’m not doing what I need to do in order to make my goal happen. Frustration then follows and before I know it I’m not making any progress towards the goal was trying to reach in the first place. Sounds crazy, but it happens.

Losing track of my goals really sucks and most of the time it ends with me being disappointed in myself, but I’ve decided to finally make a change and it’s starting to work. It’s nothing that seems mind-blowing, but to me the results have been.

Here are two goals that I’ve recently set and how I’ve somehow stuck with them to the point to where I’m starting to see some real results. These might not sound like life-changers but they’ve already made a big impact on my life.

Learning To Type (and to type faster)

I’m not sure how this ever happened but for some crazy reason I never learned how to type the right way. This means that I couldn’t use the home row and only typed with like five of my fingers. This not only made me a slow typer but it also meant that I always had to look down at my fingers on the keyboard. This was terrible for my posture and didn’t allow me to use a larger monitor along with my laptop. It wasn’t healthy for me (my neck was starting to hurt) and it slowed me down and frustrated me any time I had to type on a keyboard (which is pretty much all the time).

I knew I had to do something about this over four years ago but for some reason two years ago I got more serious about it and spent some time over Christmas vacation learning some of the basics like what finger is supposed to type what letter. I first used a program called GoodTyping and once I made it through that I found another one called TypingWeb that I still use up to this day.

Once I grinded through the initial awkwardness and frustration of leaning to type the right way I started to make some serious progress. I just kept going and even when I felt like I was “good enough” I didn’t stop. The one thing that is keeping my progress moving along is the fact that I practice typing every morning before I start working. It gets my fingers warmed up and my brain thinking in a good way to start off the morning.

How well has all of this worked? At this point I’m typing around an average of 64 words per minute which is over double what I was able to do less than a year ago. I still have a ways to go (I’d like to type around 80 WPM) but I’m going to keep working on it a little bit at a time every day and before I know it I’ll be there.

Going To Bed Earlier (and getting more rest)

Another goal I’ve talked about lately is going to be earlier (and getting up earlier), which has always been a struggle for me. I wrote about some of the structure and boundaries I set up as a way to make this goal happen and I’m happy to report that after only two weeks I’ve seen some amazing results.

The first week that I got to bed earlier I felt energized throughout my 10-12 hour workdays, even when working on things that I didn’t like doing. I didn’t need to rely on caffeine to keep me going and I kept up a good pace of getting things knocked off my to-do list. I did start to feel a little tired toward the end of the week, but I think that’s normal considering that I’m still getting used to waking up early every day and I’m starting to run again.

That first week went great, but the second week (and now into my third) was freaking amazing. Something started to happen to my body during the second week and I got on a consistent sleep schedule that had never happened to me before. Not only did I go to bed early every night but on three of the mornings I woke up at 5:30am without an alarm going off. Yeah, you heard me — I woke up at 5:30am in the morning without an alarm. The first time it happened to me I swear it felt like an out of body experience. I’m not even kidding. I woke up, looked at my phone to see what time it was (my alarm was set for 6am) and I felt wide awake. At that point I woke up, ran and felt great for the rest of the day. Then it happened two more times. Mind blown.

My mood has better, I can think though things better, I get more work done and I’m getting all of my morning runs in without feeling rushed. I would say that it’s working, wouldn’t you?

Now I just need to keep it up.

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Gettin’ It On At The San Francisco Writing Salon

I’ve thought about it for a long time, but I finally put my money (and time) where my mouth is and signed up for a writing class. The class is offered through The Writing Salon, which is a local Bay Area based group of writers and teachers who want to help others with their creative writing skills. They offer all types of classes that cover pretty much anything that an aspiring writer would need to add to their arsenal and the classes are given in a comfortable and intimate setting.

The goal of the class I’m taking is to write a personal essay about an important moment in my life, how it’s affected me and how it’s changed the way that I think about things now that it’s happened. The class is filled with all kinds of interesting people and I love when we go around the room to share the things that we’ve put down on paper.

The more I think about it the more I think the people in the class might be one of the main reasons why I like the class so much. There’s an opera singer, a world traveler and a county accountant and they all bring their own flair and interesting personalities to the table. I’m happy to be one of the more vocal members of the group, but I’m far from the most interesting.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to write about yet, but I need to decide before our next class because our first rough draft is due when we get back. I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing about how Stephanie and I first met (which is a story we tell a lot), but there are other personal things that I’m thinking about getting out of my head as well.

If I have the balls to read what I end up writing to the class, then I might just do it. I honestly shouldn’t be that worried about it, telling your dirt to stangers is easy anyway.

No matter what I come up with I’m loving this class and it reminds me of college. It’s a good way to get my mind up and moving on Saturday morning and it’s helping me sharpen up my writing skills, which is never a bad thing. What will I end up writing about? Who knows, but I promise to post it here once I get something figured out.


Just Keep Writing

I’m starting to write more stuff. Why? That’s a great question. I’m not really sure why I’ve been writing more, but for some reason I have this urge to get better at it and to do it more and more. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have been doing it one way or another since I’ve been in elementary school. I can remember writing stories that I would read to the class and the teachers who encouraged it. Writing was fun back then and it was a great way to entertain the people around me.

As I grew older writing became less of something that I wanted to do and more of something that I was required to do. Other things like sports tended to take up all of my free time, so the only times that I would write was when it was mandatory for school. I still had fun with even the most boring writing assignments and even up through college I preferred a written test to one that was multiple choice.

Once I was out of school and got a job in the real world I found myself writing all the time, but most of it was communication based. One of my first jobs was an IT guy at a construction company in Indianapolis, IN and I lived in Microsoft Outlook sending out emails all day. I don’t mind emailing and I’m actually really good at it, but even though technically I was still writing I wasn’t creating any type of content that required me to get my thoughts together in a creative and thoughtful way. Don’t get me wrong, emailing requires thought, but it’s very reactive, technical and to the point (which is not that creative).

Here over the past few years I haven’t been writing much. Stephanie and I used to blog quite a bit before we moved out to California, but that has since stopped and with it my writing. Do I still write at isocket? Of course, but it’s not the same.

To most people this wouldn’t be that big of deal, but to me when I’m not creating content (both writing and video, which I’ve stopped creating, too) I feel like I’m off my game. It’s hard to explain, but without the creation of content in my life my mind just feels out of shape. In fact, that’s probably the best way to explain it — it’s like my mind is flabby and needs to be conditioned back into shape. Just like with running there’s really only one way to get to where I need to be and that’s with dedication, consistency and constantly pushing my performance. The more writing I do, the more conditioned my mind will be and the better (and easier) my writing will become.

Writing a lot of content isn’t easy and it takes dedication and time, but when I’m able to get my thoughts together and write them up into a blog post like this one things just start to become clearer. The ability to collect your thoughts and write them up in a way that makes sense to other people will spill over to your conversations with your friends, co-workers and even husband/wife.

I know that when I’m writing I’m a better communicator all around and all I need to do is keep going. Just keep writing and the rest will happen — you’ll see.