- Pale Blue Dot
Something about Carl Sagan is always inspirational. Perhaps because he shows that we can be both rational and optimistic about the future.
Every time I hear his voice, on videos like this one and on his audiobook, I’m reminded that we can always go further and the ultimate success is to inspire others to pursue their own happiness and success. We need more people like Carl Sagan.
- Looking Back at Career Decisions
I’m currently doing a massive export of all of my Gmail messages, dating back to mid 2004, and it has been a bit of a trip down memory lane. The export isn’t even done yet but as I watch subject lines fly by in the console, sometimes something jumps out at me.
For instance, I’ve been working at very small startups since around 2007 (after I decided pro photography wasn’t the career for me). And at one point in 2008 I explored working for a more established, profitable and growing technology company. I interviewed with them for the position of Software Architect which would have been a leadership position in the company, reporting directly to the CTO and taking over direction of two product development teams. It would have been an opportunity for me to shape the future of the company and how they used technology to achieve their goals.
The email I just noticed was the offer letter.
- So What Happened to Downtime?
Be honest – how many “Eureka!” moments have you had while texting a friend, or while reading news on your phone, or while Liking a friend’s status update, or while playing Angry Birds? The answer is probably “none.” If you’re like me, the good ideas and clarity of mind comes when you’re not communicating or consuming information. When your mind has the freedom to wander, good things happen.
From the moment I wake up and groggily grasp for my phone to check email and news I am hyper-connected. Generally, the only times that I’m not within 3 feet of some internet access device are when I’m sleeping, showering, driving (in motion), or having dinner with friends. And that last one is the only one where it’s actually my choice to leave the phone in my pocket, all the other situations have physical or legal limitations on usage.
The need to be connected is, in fact, very basic in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the psychological theory that explains the largest and most fundamental human desires. Our need for a sense of belonging comes right after physical safety. We thrive on friendship, family, and the constant affirmation of our existence and relevance. Our self-esteem is largely a product of our interactions with others.
It is now possible to always feel loved and cared for, thanks to the efficiency of our “comment walls” on Facebook and seamless connection with everyone we’ve ever known. Your confidence and self-esteem can quickly be reassured by checking your number of “followers” on Twitter or the number of “likes” garnered by your photographs and blog posts. The traction you are getting in your projects, or with your business, can now be measured and reported in real time.
Our insatiable need to tune into information – at the expense of savoring our downtime – is a form of “work” (something I call “insecurity work”) that we do to reassure ourselves.
I believe that the only option to reclaim our collective sanity is to go out of our way to unplug as often as possible. With few exceptions, nobody is going to die if you don’t check email for a few hours. Or if you ignore phone calls and text messages for an afternoon. And I highly recommend the occasional extreme disconnect of taking a multi-day trip somewhere without internet access or cell coverage.
Embrace downtime, liberate your creativity.
- You can’t accomplish anything just by giving it 110%
I could not agree more with the sprit of this article. Yes, he seems to be using a different definition of “passionate” than I do. I would say that being passionate about your company/product is a requirement, what he’s talking about is more like blind ambition or foolishness.
And there really is no room for running off half-cocked and spending your life savings starting an “ice cream for dogs” business because you love ice cream and you love dogs and someone told you that you could accomplish anything you put your mind to.
I always enjoy reading fiction–also known as 90 percent of all start-up how-to guides and articles. The dreamscapes they paint always seem to I’ve a knack for happy endings.
Follow your dreams.
Turn your passion into profits.
Do what makes you happy.
This is lovey-dovey utopian nonsense. This sort of advice would have you believe that if you simply put your all into something you will be successful. Bottom line: if the start-up idea your passionate about isn’t capable of generating revenue, your passion will bankrupt you
Worth a read, would love to hear what other people think about this. Seems like it’s the “trophies for everyone!” mentality transferring into expectations of business as the young adults become entrepreneurs. Everyone thinks they’re going to be the next Facebook or Google…
- Attitude is Everything.
Yesterday, I was out riding along the San Gabriel River Trail on a beautiful Southern California morning when something unexpected happened.
After making it far enough south and deciding to turn around I was cruising north, listening to Boston, hands resting lightly on the tops of the handlebars when I noticed I was overtaking a couple young kids riding single file on their bmx bikes. On this segment of trail, which runs directly adjacent to the San Gabriel River, the river is completely concrete with a steep concrete slope at probably 45 degrees from the top of the trail to the bottom of the “river”. Because the speed difference between the kids and myself was pretty high (I was going about 20mph and coming up on them pretty fast), I moved my hands down to the hoods so that I had access to the brakes in the unlikely event that it became necessary.
It became necessary. (more…)
- Motivation and Innovation
I have done nothing truly innovative in the first 155 days of 2009.
This is what I have come to recognize as the cause of my current state of discontent. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection lately, which of course only happens when I have too much time for self-reflection. My preference is to occupy myself with exciting (read: cutting edge, innovative) projects rather than silly introspection.
Now, it’s true that I have done several things this year with which I’m quite satisfied. I’ve started making some good friends here in LA as the two-year anniversary of my moving west has come and gone. We added the Atlanta Braves as yet another flagship Photocore client. I was involved in launching a free career assessment aimed at helping young people understand themselves and find their ideal job (more about that later). But none of these satisfy my basal thirst for innovation.