Some time before, in a past life, in a past day job, it felt like work. I answered to someone; my stress level indexed my responsibilities and how far off-target I was from them. My life was less “mine,” less the product of my personal goals, more the product of market forces; more what my parents would have wanted. I made career choices based on what would benefit me most financially, rather than existentially. I thought convention would benefit me more than pure idealism, and indeed it did. I don’t mean to say I’m ungrateful for all the fortune conventional wisdom has brought me; only that its gains are short-lived, and I’m looking again to my long-term.

I built my own thing as a way out from this; as a re-declaration of my own skills and capacity to do more than what I was merely told to do. I gave that thing a conventional goal of being a profitable business, to solve the problems convention solves: “nothing in life is free.” Otherwise I merely wanted to build, and wanted to build something that people enjoyed. I made it personal and tied it closely to who I am. I worked on it for years because I enjoyed it, and other people seemed to, too.

Now it’s reached a certain point, a certain clearing on the other side of the woods: modest profitability. I always thought I wanted a big small business, but when I started putting that in motion in a real way, I realized how quickly (and how far) I strayed from my original purpose in building this thing (whether you call it a product or business or art project). I started seeing how even this pure thing can eventually feel like work — not in the invigorating, satisfyingly-exhausted sense of the word, but in the futile, misaligned-with-my-life sense. I started buying into the business gurus who say I need to focus on sales and inserting myself in front of people to “grow.” I didn’t really think (or know to think) that I don’t have to do things by convention now. Sure, conventional business practices might help me reach less-modest profitability. But what then? Again, convention promises only short-term, shallow happiness and not the kind of bone-deep satisfaction you get from giving the finger to convention and generally forging your own path.

#work #venture #convention

Out of any year in recent history, I can't think of one that I've looked forward to quite as much as 2020. Something about it feels different than the others.

I rang in the new year with no bells at all; just a quiet acknowledgement of the turning hand on the clock — a new hour, a new year, a new decade — and then turned my attention back to the movie I was watching on my parents' couch with a friend. There was no carousing, no fireworks, no champagne — just a tiny feeling in the back of my mind that some moment had finally arrived. I'm relaxed, I'm ready.


I recently found myself working 12+ hour days again, so I took these last two weeks to slow down, step back from work a bit, and enjoy time with family and friends. I'll be slowly ramping up again over this upcoming week, so we'll be back to full-speed again by next week.

I'm not usually one to divvy up my life into calendar years, but 2018 was a particularly impactful one for me, so I figure, what better time to do a little reflection than now?

I made some major life changes this year. ...Well, one in particular: I traded employee life for founder/boss-man/big-cheese/“maker” life back in February. I did a lot of traveling this year — some just me and my dog, some alone, some with good friends or family.

I started meeting more people, from my own city and others. I got stranded in Alabama as my old car broke down, and made friends with some mechanics. I got a tour of Asheville after showing up without a plan. I got too little sleep dancing and wrestling with locals in Reykjavik. I traded languages with new friends in Sevilla, and stories with Münchner, despite my sorely lacking German. I did some things for business and many for pleasure.

What I'm most excited about right now, this day in late December, is feeling like I'm finally hitting my stride. Besides having the time to build the things I want to this year, I've also had the space I need to grow up and out of old habits; to grab more control over how I spend my time and energy; to do things more deliberately. Many of my experiences and mishaps this year made me realize what I've been doing wrong for a much longer time, and what to do about those things.

One thing I've done over the past few months is go on a diet — partly to lose weight, and partly to eat less terrible food. I was never taught how to eat well as a kid — I didn't touch a vegetable and enjoy it until my mid-20s. But cutting out the sugar and beer and pasta for more whole, varied foods overall has got my body feeling better, and my mind more clear. I've lost a decent amount of weight, but more importantly, most mornings I actually wake up feeling refreshed and ready. When you eat like shit all of your life, this is a truly profound feeling.

One realization I had this year was that I've actually been doing something pretty serious this whole time, despite me not recognizing it — building these platforms and ideas and this business. I'm trying to seriously build something that will last. I'm seriously trying to continue doing that for the next few decades. I haven't felt that way about anything in my relatively short life thus far, so actually acknowledging it really affected me.

As I look to 2019, I'm optimistic. I can't wait to build more things, and help more people express themselves freely. I can't wait to meet more humans I've never known or only corresponded with through a screen — whether that's at FOSDEM 2019 in Brussels (February 2-3), AWP 2019 in Portland (March 27-30), or anywhere in between. I can't wait for what tomorrow holds, and I hope you can't either.

Happy New Year, everyone 🎉

#2019 #newyear2019 #personal #travel #work