This week, wow. So many things in such a short amount of time. And the effects of them all are going to be much further reaching than the attention span of the 24 hour news cycle. Families in Boston and in West, Texas and those surrounding areas are going to be dealing with the impact that these tragedies made for a long time to come. And, while it is in a much less direct way, I am concerned about the long lasting impact that events like this have on me.
Whenever there is an intentional act of evil committed, there is an obsession and in depth look the perpetrators. When the terror is committed in the name of an ideology or religion or as an act of war from one country against another, my mind can wrap my head around it. Not completely, but a little bit more than when it is an act of individual cowardice and pure evil, one human being deciding that he is going to take out as many other human beings as possible. For whatever reasons eventually come forward, they are never understandable.
On September 11, 2001, my 2pm Economics class wasn’t canceled when just about every other class was. My professor, a grizzled old Vietnam vet, explained to us that for ever minute of that day and every day going forward that we lived our lives differently because of the acts of terror committed against human kind, for each moment we spent in fear, the terrorist won. They hate our way of life and each moment of our way of life that we lived differently because of them, they claimed victory.
I thought about that statement yesterday afternoon when getting on an incredibly full New York City subway. And I hate that I thought about it then. I hate that, because of these two brothers in Boston, I looked at everyone on the subway with a little bit of suspicion. I hate that their act of cowardice and evil caused me to look at my fellow New Yorkers and their backpacks and wonder. I hate that the shrapnel of the bombs detonated in Boston landed in my consciousness and now requires some healing on my part.
These are insane times we live in. Both here in America and around the world. But, as my professor said, every moment we spend in fear is a moment that they win. Here’s to beating back that kind of mental terrorism and reclaiming the benefit of the doubt.
Always remember, “the brightest lights cast the darkest shadows…”
A lot of people don’t know this, but I have been in a relationship with another man since 2007. Both of us being adults, made this legally binding decision freely and with confidence because it was right for us. There have been ups and downs, but, like all relationships, we have found ways to work through it and move on. Our ability to do what is in each other’s best interest and build something awesome together was in no way impeded by the fact that we are both men.
Before we entered into this relationship, we talked through what would happen if one of us were to pass away, become disabled, or want to leave the relationship at some point in the future. We knew what we were getting ourselves into and the government said it was okay by them.
Amazingly, our contract to enter into this relationship wasn’t protested because we were both men. When we finished filing our documents, no one else felt like we were encroaching on their relationship or keeping them from having a fulfilling lifelong relationship as a result. Our all male relationship didn’t keep anyone who was in a man and woman relationship from living out that choice for them. When it was all said and done, the LLC that me my business partner formed didn’t affect ANYONE but us.
And, while forming an LLC is a much less emotionally charged issue than that of legally recognized marriage, there are some stark and clear parallels that I can’t help but think about today. When two adults decide that they want to enter into a lifelong relationship, who should be able to stop them? The government sees no reason to not let me and my male business partner be committed to each other for life because our gender, age, and race make no difference in our ability to make that decision for ourselves.
On an even more personal note, Annie and I are in love. And have been for almost ten years. We’ve chosen to build our lives together, are committed to each other, and don’t need anyone to tell us that our love isn’t as real as theirs because we don’t have a marriage certificate. But, when the day comes and we decide that we want to sign that legal document, I can’t even imagine what I would do if people who don’t know us told us we couldn’t because they didn’t like that we were in love. Our love doesn’t affect them and has nothing to do with theirs.
Love is a choice between two people. Not the church. Not the government. Love is not something to be regulated or allowed. Love is far bigger than any definition we can put on it.
“Love is only a word until we decide to let it possess us with all its force. Love is only a word until someone arrives to give it meaning.” – Paulo CoelhoTweet
In the past week, since returning from SXSW, I’ve seen more than a handful of examples of New York City tech and digital personalities opening calling out others in our community in the oh so context-less 140 characters of Twitter. From hate mail for big companies like Foursquare or young companies like Bib+Tuck (who I am an advisor to), the call outs haven’t been constructive for the companies or their founders and make the VCs, PR professionals, and Media types spouting the digital venom look like playground bullies.
Are there conversations to be had about elevating our game? Can we hold the standard high in our community of chip-on-the-shoulder Silicon Alley start-ups? Can we expect more from our fellow entrepreneurs and partners? Yes to all of the above. But, in such a small, by comparison, community of people working in the technology and digital realm, no one is more than one email introduction away.
Success in the NYC digital scene is not a zero sum game that only one company gets to take home the prize. Investments are being made, companies and jobs are being created, and we have a huge cheerleader in the Mayor’s office. The fledgling community is at a turning point that has all kinds of potential just around the next bend, but only if as a community we raise the bar in a constructive and actionable way. There are more than enough wins to go around, let’s go get them together.
“A rising tide carries all ships.” – Warren BuffettTweet
This week on Forbes I only shared part of the story about increasing time in 2013. I made the bold claim that, if you found one hour each day to be more productive than you were the year before, you could add 365 hours of time to your year. Or said another way, 15.2 days of better living in 2013. (Read it HERE)
Awesome thought right? Who wouldn’t love an extra two weeks to get things done in the new year?
The idea hit me while recovering from jet lag after our Thanksgiving trip to Europe. I was going to be at my usual time (midnight) but waking up an hour earlier than normal (4:45ish) and functioning just fine each day on less sleep than I usually run on. So one morning around 5:15 as I started my 2nd cup of coffee, the thought struck me, what if I slept one hour less everyday for a year? That question led to the math that lead to the Forbes post this week. If I slept one hour less every day in the new year, I would be AWAKE for an additional 15.2 days worth of the year.
So, like I frequently do when I have an epiphany over my early morning coffee before anyone else is awake, I sent myself an email reminder to run the idea past some friends later in the day. When I did, I was met with two reactions:
1) You are freak who doesn’t need sleep, stop judging me. In fact, you are unhealthy for sleeping as little as you do now.
2) That’s cool, but what on earth would I do with all that extra time?
The first reaction was some what in jest, but it was definitely interesting to see how long people sleep being such a hot button issue that my suggestion of GAINING TWO WEEKS OF AWAKE TIME IN THE NEW YEAR set off their defenses.
But the second reaction was actually more concerning to me. Some of the very same people who I’ve heard complain recently of not being as far along on projects or goals as they’d hoped were viewing the sacrifice of sleep as a price too high to pay. Or that whatever they might be able to accomplish in that extra hour wouldn’t be as valuable as an extra hour between the sheets.
This is not a post recommending you sleep 5-6 hours like I do, I know that isn’t for everyone. But I am of the mind to say that it is amazing what you body can do when it is trained to. It is even more amazing to see what your mind can do when it is trained to consider every waking or sleeping hour as part of a much bigger plan. My goals and ambitions stress me out everyday. The “what” and “why” are bigger than what I can see as far as the “how” are concerned. Most nights when I go to bed I am already thinking about what I am going to be working on when I get up the next morning.
Again, this rant isn’t to say that my sleep patterns are to be modeled or are right for anyone other than me. But it is to say that, I hope in the new year, every hour of your day, waking or sleeping, will be considered as far game towards getting you to your goals and the ambitions that you have for the new year and that those goals and ambitions will be big enough that all habits and patterns are open for discussion and modification to optimize your life in the new year.Tweet
Over the past two weeks, I’v gotten into more debates online than the past two years combined. Part of that has to do with being a little more exposed online via my posts on Forbes or debating Canadian news anchors on live television (hustle brag, yes I know) but the other side of that has come from picking sides. There are a lot of things that I don’t have a well formed opinion on but I am learning a lot through the debate, gun control being the current argument du jour on my Facebook page. And then there are others that I can argue with the best of them.
Earlier this month FastCompany posted an article called “Why Your Brand Should Piss Someone Off” and it had a few lines that resonated with me:
“If you are willing to be anything to anybody–to surrender your identity and your individuality–no one will have strong feelings about you either way…In business, a dull existence means a weak brand. If you want some people to love you, you’ve got to accept that others may hate you…. Polarization is good. Traveling the middle road, as broad and tempting as it may be, is always and unequivocally bad.”
I’ve for a long time played the middle of the road and cared quite a bit about what other people thought. By hoping to please both sides of the fence ended up with no one engaging one way or the other. There is nothing to debate if everyone is right. But, as I have started to narrow in on the story line that I am telling, those that it pisses off and those that it appeals to is becoming clearer. It is definitely a work in progress, but, the more challenging situations I create for myself, the stronger the resolve and the more I understand the things I am confident in.
It is all a work in progress but, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”Tweet