The Why

We had a lunch meeting at Foxwoods Resort and Casino yesterday so I hit up some schools on my way down so I was traveling short distances, stopping, and getting in/out the cars.  I typically just listen to the radio for these types of trips as it hard to focus on a longer podcast or such when you constantly have to stop and start it.

But on the way home, I drove straight, about an hour and half.  Earlier yesterday I had download the most recent podcast from Kevin Rose called The Journal during which he interview Treehouse founder and CEO Ryan Carson.  This was my first time every learning of Ryan.

During the interview I heard one of the most humble guys I’d ever experienced talking about their experience as an entrepreneur.  He was completely candid about the mistakes he had made, how he constantly thought about quitting but persevered, and how he basically wandered aimlessly until he reach the age of 32 where he found his purpose/his why (he is now 40).  His why is making higher education available to more people through Treehouse, his online computer coding courses.  He teaches coding as a trade, which he believes it truly is, rather than as a four year degree.

Being 32 currently i was able to reflect on what he was saying.  I for so long have felt like I have been behind the ball trying to figure out my purpose, my passion, my why.  Here was a guy who had owned a few companies, some which failed and some which succeeded, all before the age of 32 and he admits he didn’t know shit about a why prior to that age.  He found his purpose and that drives him day after day.  It pushes him to do the daily mundane tasks that slowly build on success, to take the good with the bad.  It was quite inspiring to me.  Immediately after the podcast was over, I followed Ryan on Instagram just to keep up with what he was doing.

For the first time ever, I actually direct messaged Ryan to give him my feedback on the interview and how great I thought it was.  I just wanted to let him know his words made a difference to me and to keep up the good work.  I wasn’t looking for anything in return.  I figured he got hit up on Instagram all the time for people looking for jobs or investment money, or contacts, so I was half expecting him to even read it and definitely was not expecting a reply.  Within an hour or so Ryan had sent a message back saying Thanks for sharing, or something like that.

I took a second to think about how amazing the world we live in is with the internet.  Here is a guy who lives in Portland, Oregon who was featured in a podcast by a silicon valley superstar that I downloaded and listened to in my car.  I instantaneously was able to find in on Instagram to see what he is up to.  I then can immediately get in contact with him and he can reply within hours – technically within seconds if he chose. It’s fascinating.  There is no excuse to not know something you want to know.  Of course I grew up with the internet and knew for many years all of this was possible, but to step back and appreciate what a game changer it is was something I don’t think I had ever done.

So for now I will continue to search for my why, but I have a feeling come November I may suddenly discover a new purpose.

Another appointment

So I am beginning to think it is a cold.  I went to the gym but just walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill preventing annoying everyone coughing up my chest congestion.

Again my morning was flooded with emails for last minute questions/orders.  It’s just that time of year where I need to almost be attached to my computer to solve issues as they come in.

We had a follow up doctor’s appointment to go over the results of the 1st trimester screening, but because our screening was rescheduled later the results were not available for our appointment.  The appointment was pretty low key.  The doctor did a quick ultrasound to check the heart beat, asked how Jessica was doing and sent us on our way.

On the way to and from the appointment I listened to a new Tim Ferriss podcast where he interviewed athletic trainer Ryan Flaherty.  What a sharp guy.  Only 34 years old and made me feel like I was a slug.  He was a top trainer in getting athletes to get faster.  He was totally deep into the science of exercise science which made him a top trainer.  But listening to him, I kind of wished I had explored more career options in high school because I thought I’d enjoy beings a physical therapist.   I know it’s never too late to do something, but I just think if back then I had explored it, I probably would have proceed down that path.  Oh well, one missed opportunity for now to open another one down the road.

Big Data

I listened to a new podcast sponsored by NPR called Hidden Brain.  This episode focused on how big data knows more about human behavior than I think most people realize.

One example (Note: I am not quoting exact statistics because this isn’t a research paper and it really doesn’t matter to prove the point) is when males in the United States 4% will identify as gay.  But when you look at search terms for gay pornography online 8% of males could be identified as gay.  The real interesting fact shows that males living in a state where gay rights are quite progressive, the self report surveys and porn searches for gay porn are about equal.  In states where gay rights are still very limited males will self-report as gay about 2% of the time, but gay porn searches will equal the more standard 8%.

Example two.  Areas of the United States where search terms included racial slurs at higher levels where high predictive of whether they would have supported/voted for Donald Trump for President.

Example three.  People who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancers had there previous search history reviewed to see if there were things in their searching past that could have lead to early diagnosis.  Compared to a control group with no pancreatic cancers, a person searching for indigestion with pain was much more higher correlation to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than the people who search indigestion alone.

I highly suggest you listen to the podcast if this is of any interest because I know I did not do it justice here.  Listen Here

But it was semi important for me to lay some ground work to share my thoughts.  First I don’t think we realize how much data we provide to the companies and apps through our daily interaction with our devices.  I can definitely see now when billions of search terms happen on google it is easy to start seeing trends and to predict future behaviors.  As much as we always think people change over time, one generation usually thinking what the next generation does is ridiculous, but in reality the human brain and basic human behavior has not changed that much.  The medium on which the human expresses themselves on has.  Humans today have the same flight or fight response when they sense an unexpected motion out of the side of their eye as our cavemen ancestors.  The chemistry in the brain has not changed drastically.

Our devices and the internet allow us to search things and discover things in a much more “private” way than in the past.  It is much easier to be racist online by searching for racist jokes, or watching videos that further your current view than to have to public stand in front of friends and family to share your view.  Who really shares with the people closest to them what exactly you search for online.

We are just as the beginning of this mass collection of data and having the ability to use it to analyze human behaviors.  How powerful would it be to have google analyze your search terms on an on going basis to predict future illness, to connect you with long last family members, or to find your perfect romantic match based solely on an aggregate of data being constantly collected and analyzed. We either will be completely run by robot in all aspects or we will have a great shift of human behavior for the first time in our history as we need to adapt to a whole new set of circumstances.  It can be a little nerve racking to think computers will know us better than we know ourselves, but there could also be some great hidden answers that we will uncover.  Let’s see what happens………

Fore!

I had the afternoon free yesterday and my co-worker in the adjacent territory suggested a round of golf.  At first I was apprehensive, what if there was a work emergency needing my attention…….. but then I remember my Semler terminal days.  It would be good to get out and swing the clubs for the first time of the year enjoying the mid-60s sunshine.  The club out by the airport runs a weekday special – $23 for 18 holes with a cart.  Yea $23!  How can you beat that?  The course conditions are alright, but for $23 who can complain.

My front 9 I shot pretty well.  I really need to work on my short game, that’s where I lost it, but in reality I play a few times year and that’s it.  You can’t expect to get that much better without lessons and barely playing.  I’m not a hardcore golf fan, but enjoy playing now and then as it can be therapeutic if I don’t get frustrated playing.

The back 9 was awful.  No consistency in my drive, a terrible short game, terrible putts.  It was hardly worth playing, but we had a good time.

And guess what?  No work emergencies.  A few emails that came across that I addressed that evening at home.  Terminal days are key to life fulfillment.

Mini Golf

My mind is constantly running and that’s half of the problem.  The north end of our town was home to a small driving range “The Golf Academy.”  It sat on a main state highway.  It has a small gravel parking area, a small white stucco/concrete building with two garage doors that had seen better days.  Behind the building was a large field outlined with 30 foot or so high netting.  I never noticed if there were distant marker in the field, but it was wide open and clear to wail away at golf balls.  Rarely would I see anyone out there swinging at balls. At most, I had seen 3 people there are one time.  Sometimes you’d go by and see someone getting a lesson but it was most desolate.

Last fall I noticed the faded sign had been removed and the grass started getting a little taller.  It appeared they had gone out of business.  Instantly I got an idea!  What a perfect place for a family entertainment center.  There was plenty of room outside of the driving range area to put in a mini golf course.  The driving range could still be operable.  Maybe add a portable climbing wall, and/or a bounce house.  The building would be the perfect little open air restaurant to serve burgers and dogs.

Then I really started thinking.  The annual July 4th fireworks were visible from this field.  What a great promotional opportunity to throw a huge 4th of July party.  Bring in a stage, have some live music, fun for the whole family.

So why not pull the trigger??  There is a pretty large initial investment required to build a mini golf course, not to mention renovating the old building to make it comply with health standards to serve food.  Money is money.  There is always a way to find money.  My bigger concern is can I stay motivated to put it all together and then run it.  With such a large investment, there would be a lot on the line.  Can I stay that excited to build it and grow it, 3 years away, 5 years away, 10 years away?  Also from some research I determined the land was most likely leased.  The owner of the land was the local power company so I doubt they would be looking to sell.  With a lease I could be at their mercy should they not renew the lease at some point in the future.  Would they even allow permanent structures, like a mini golf course, be added to the land?

Maybe this would be better when I had some more personal capital to invest rather than rely on loans or investors.  So what idea can I pursue instead to build that capital?  Ask me in an hour, I’ll have a new idea.

Knives

I had to spend some time in the car so I decided to listen to the latest episode of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. In this episode he interviewed master craftsman and Japanese knife maker Murray Carter.  I am always fascinated by people who master a craft, especially when it involves using your hands.  Hearing his story and the stroke of luck that caused him to get involved in knife making really goes to show you sometimes the universe tells us where we need to focus, we just need to be aware enough to listen.  Made me start thinking, did I miss my calling or am I still awaiting for the moment in my own life.  I hope I didn’t miss it!

The other thing the episode made me think about it how many people underestimate the power of creating something with your hands.  Whether it’s art, music, culinary, woodworking, construction, metal work, on and on.  I have an intuition that the ability of humans to work symbiotically between the brain and hands is a very important part of life.  You’re never too young or too old to create.  I watch my nephew as he explores the world and experiences everything for the first time and at the opposite end I visit my 96 year old grandfather at his assisted living facility where he participates in craft time making hats and decor items.  Creating is the key.  Scrolling through Facebook or Instagram use the hands and brain in a relationship, but it lacks the creating.  It lacks a true exploring using trial and error.  No matter who you are, or what you are, go out and create.  Create in different ways.  Take classes explore.  Teach your kids, your teenagers, your parents to get out and make something!

Everybody’s Fine

Sometimes the universe just gives us some signals.

After getting home from the gym, I headed to my basement lair to start editing some of the photos I took of Jessica’s cousin earlier in the week.  After spending a couple hours on one of the edits, I came up for air and found Jessica chilling in the sun porch with the dogs on her lap.  I turn on the TV and a movie is starting.  The opening credits tell me is called Everybody’s Fine.  I see Robert De Niro in the beginning sequences so I start watching; mainly because I was trying to figure out if I saw it before.  Once it starts rolling I was hooked.

The whole premise of the movie is that De Niro, a newly widowed husband asked his four grown children, living all across the United States, to come visit him for a family dinner.  All four of them blow him off so he plans to surprise them all at their homes.  All his children achieved great levels of success in their professions and when he surprises them, they are too busy to spend time with him pushing him off onto the next sibling.  The secondary reason for them brushing him aside is one of his children has a drug problem and was arrested in Mexico.  Long story short, the son arrested in Mexico dies of a drug overdose.  De Niro, a blue collar laborer who made the PVC coating for high power transmission wires, always pushed his children hard to be successful.  And although they all achieve success in their own fields, they also had “secret problems” that they kept from their father.  The son who died of the drug overdose was the one who was pushed the hardest by his father.  The movie lets you assume that the pushing of De Niro on his son is what lead to his drug addiction and ultimate death.

The thing about the movie that got be so wrapped up, was the fact that it was basically a movie about my thoughts and blog posts of recent.  It summed up the Semler terminal days and the thoughts about what my job as parent will be.  Here was a guy looking for some meager time with his kids but they were all too busy for him.  The disappointment he showed was heartbreaking.  What if that were his or their last day on earth?  Would they have act differently?  Are we aware of the people we may push away in our everyday life to live a certain way or to achieve things that may not ultimately matter?

From a parenting perspective, you can sympathize with De Niro for wanted to push his children to be highly successful and their best selves, but he did it at a cost of their happiness.  Yes I think we need to continually push and motivate our children to be the best they can be, but we need to do it from their perspective.  We need to find what is it they enjoy, what they are gifted at, and what motivates them to push them.  And to push them to the point they are comfortable, or maybe a slightly higher level, but never to the extreme.  Motivating them doesn’t need to be a constant, consistent input either.  Let them spread their wings.  Find out where their internal motivations lie and push from their.  They may enjoy something so much, their own drive pushes them to higher levels of success and they will only require random check ins from you.  And if they get to a point of laziness, you can push or motivate to spark a renewed interest, but if they reached a point of laziness it may be time to help guide them to another area of interest.  Every person is different and every child is different.  I guess that parenting.  You can’t practice it.  You roll with the punches and you continually evaluate.  Of course you’ll make mistakes but if you stay aware you can correct and move forward.

Parenting seems stressful already, but I’m ready for the challenge.  I’m going to parent the shit out of my kid 🙂