The Joys of Planning

By this point it’s a pretty well known fact among my friends that I love to plan. And when I say I love to plan, I mean I fucking love to plan. It really doesn’t matter how hard I try to fight it, how frequently I tell myself “I’m not going to make any post-work plans this week”, I will inevitably end up making dinner with friends three out of the four nights of the week. There is just no feeling like the feeling of carrying out a well-orchestrated plan. It’s something akin to basking in the glory of accomplishing a military victory, (I imagine).

My love of planning definitely started at an early age. During days of complete freedom in the summertime (when I wasn’t at day camp) I would regularly schedule out my free time. Starting at age 7. My days looked something like this:

9:00-10:30 Breakfast
10:30-12 Barbies
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Digimon
2:00-3:00 American Girl Dolls
3:00 Snack

…and so it went.

I continued throwing myself birthday parties long after it was necessary, or socially acceptable. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to plan. I remember this book really adding fuel to the fire from a young age. And hey, if you think I’m strange for having a bouncey-bounce at my 16th birthday party, then we probably shouldn’t be friends anyway.

I’ve tried to fight my natural urge to plan, misled, nay- seduced, by the romance of being spontaneous. It never really works out though, because as soon as a little bit of a plan gets formed I hold onto it for dear life and struggle with it being changed- a bit like trying to wrangle a life preserver from someone floating in the middle of an ocean of indecision.

As I become slightly more of a young adult I’ve begun finding that the best way to structure my time is somewhere in the middle of very structured and entirely unstructured. On weekends I try to pick a gym class and plan just a few hours of the day for an adventure or coffee with friends. This leaves me with enough free hours to relax, and make it to my happy place. For certain, the best plans can only be enjoyed with contrast to time spent doing nothing- or whatever it is you feel like doing.

Unfortunately for this blog, I find writing to be something I can never plan to do- only something I can do when inspiration strikes. It’s all very spontaneous.

Working Towards Balance

I never imagined how difficult it would be to learn how to take care of myself. Having spent most of my time between ages 18 and 22 in a relationship distracted me from figuring out exactly how to make myself happy on my own. Finally single again at 23, I’ve embarked on the wildly difficult journey towards life balance. I’m a planner by nature. An organizer and someone who thrives where structure is laid before me. Thus the realization that life in the post-college world has about as little structure as play-doh came as a bit of a shock. Life balance used to be summed up fairly well by this diagram:

College life, like youth, is utterly wasted on the ignorant. Real life becomes a rabbit hole of paying bills, negotiating salaries, filling taxes (thanks Dad), not to mention balancing the few hours you have outside work to see friends, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and spend time with significant others. That triangle of college choices has morphed into some sort of crazy shape that has infinite corners.

My greatest challenge has been forming good habits. At certain points during college I kick ass habits in place. I was exercising almost every day, eating right, seeing friends, studying, and getting enough sleep. I should probably mention that I only had class three days a week. Ah, academia.

In the real world it has taken me about a year and a half to settle into startup life (now working at my second startup) and figure out how to make everything else happen at the same time. I read The Power of Habit earlier this year, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to make changes in their life. The first habit I worked on changing was when I would exercise. I switched from trying to convince myself to work out at the end of the day, to getting up at 5:45AM four days a week to go to 7AM fitness classes at my gym. What I realized was that doing this was analogous to achieving bonus hours in the day. Besides that, it has allowed me to start each workday feeling empowered, lead to healthier food choices, and increased productivity. If you are not a morning person and see no way that you could get up at 5:45AM and do something like this, I suggest you offer yourself the following deal: try it one time and see if you like it. If you don’t, you never have to do it again. I’ve been applying this to a lot of things in life, and it works great. It’s also important to note that when I do get up at 5:45AM I’ve gone to bed by 10PM at the latest. I love to sleep :)

One of my favorite new habits is my Monday morning 7AM yoga class. This I would really recommend for starting out your week feeling calm and collected. Pro-tip, never drink coffee before yoga if you can manage it. I also pack my lunch for work every day, and have switched from a large lunch, to small snacks throughout the day. This has kept me feeling full and keep my blood sugar up, enabling me to turn a blind eye to the racks of free candy and snacks my office kitchen contains.

So I’m beginning to have a handle on eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. I make time to see my friends by having / attending dinner parties, or hanging out with people on the weekends. This is all working pretty well. I’m working on drinking less alcohol because I’ve never been a big fan, but unfortunately the work happy hour is a standard socializing ritual in most places.

My real goal is to keep a handle on all of this life balance stuff (and keep improving at it) so whenever I do end up in another relationship I’ll be able to keep myself happy, my life in check, AND work on the next terrifying life beast that they don’t warn you about: communication. More on that next time.

What It Feels Like When Your Startup Fails

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There is relief in knowing it’s over. It’s a kind of relief you could never anticipate. Not at the very beginning, in the middle, or as the end draws close. When you begin to sense that your startup is really falling apart it’s typically too late to do anything about it. That feeling begins somewhere deep in the pit of your stomach. The closest feeling I can imagine is the sense of panic that the sky might be able to fall down. As the pieces begin to truly fall apart the panic builds. It creeps up when you least expect it, and it settles in to ride out the end. It’s the uncertainty that will really get you though. Until you finally make the decision, and finally draw the curtain. Then there is relief, which will come as a surprise but will be welcomed with open arms.

And then you can move on.

That One Time I Was In An Ad Campaign For Yelp

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This was easily one of the funniest things I’ve ever agreed to do. I had no idea I’d be showing up around the globe (Paris, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Boston, Seattle, etc), but these crack me up so I’m going to just leave them here. The experience was really fun, and unlike anything I’d done before. Woke up at 5AM, started shooting at 6AM, had my hair and makeup done for each location, etc. They had me bring my own clothes and then styled them, which was my favorite part. How often do you get to have a professional take a spin through your closet? This was also totally worth doing for the hilarious text messages people have sent me as they’ve encountered these ads in various locations- (for some reason all the people I know passed through Berlin this summer). Thanks to Jon A. (previous SF Yelp CM) for reaching out to me to do this. :)

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I Drank the Birthright Kool-Aid, and It Tasted Like Manischewitz

very grape-y

One month ago today I bit the bullet and actually went on the dreaded Birthright trip. I know- I’m about as surprised as you are, given what you could call my original dead-set hesitation to participating in a radically propagandistic venture. It turns out that a mix of guilt tripping from my non-Jewish friends, being able to go with my best friend, and the prospect of riding a camel was enough to get me to call my own bluff.

So I went.

Lina and I spent approximately 48 hours in transit between San Francisco and Tel Aviv, where we were suddenly living on a bus with 38 extremely East Coast Jews (and later eight Israeli soldiers). Talk about a trip.

The next ten days followed my gradual transition from (basically) refusing to participate, to almost entirely giving in and participating (aside from my iron clad distain for dancing in circles). There was an assortment of hiking, shopping, eating, busing, and listening to great tales of history from our tour guide, Ariel. Oh, and the not unexpected, light-hearted doses of propaganda. It does make sense, to be fair. You, an 18-26 year old with a Jewish relative somewhere in the family tree, get to go to Israel and do all sorts of crazy shit for ten days, for free. All they ask in return is that you come back to Israel, marry a fellow Jew, and have Jewish babies so our people don’t die out.

Seems totally legit to me.

In all seriousness, I did have a great time on Birthright. In addition to witnessing an onstage proposal (one of the most joyful, high energy moments I’ve ever experienced), I met some awesome people, I finally got to see a part of the world I’ve spent several years studying, and most importantly I got to do something crazy with my best friend. I’m hesitant to get too into the religious aspect of things, as I’ve always connected more with the cultural side of Judaism, and I think that still holds true. To be honest I like anything that gets everyone together for dinner. Also hesitant to get into the political side of things, except to say that everything looks different on the ground.

If you have the opportunity to go on Birthright I’d say go for it. Whether or not you need to have Jewish babies to repay the debt, well, that part is up to you.

joyful noises

Post-proposal celebrating

The Shuttle Buses Are Not The Problem.

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 Most of what’s being reported about the “class warfare” occurring in San Francisco is happening from afar. I’d like to zoom in for a second and point a few things out. First of all, while calling the recent Google shuttle protests “class warfare” sounds exciting and sort of SF does Les Mis-ish, I think this is taking it WAY too far. Let us not forget that the type of people who are drawn to the Bay Area are passionate individuals who love to take up a cause. For the most part the recent protests have seemed reasonable to me if not downright necessary. Gay marriage? Absolutely. Public nudity rights? Not for me, but hey, whatever floats your boat. But protesting companies like Yahoo and Google for running shuttle buses from SF to the peninsula is not the same as protesting for our rights. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Everyone has a right to live in the city. Riding a shuttle, in fact, keeps more cars off the roads.  For everyone who is enraged at the ruling that companies using Muni stops will pay $1 per stop, you need to understand the fact that the city isn’t allowed to make a profit on this, and that it is just a pilot program. It’s a step in the right direction.

What pisses me off the most is that I might be clumped in with the entitled tech startup stereotype because I work at a tech startup, but I’m still living paycheck to paycheck, and my only form of transportation is my bicycle. Housing rates are ridiculously high, but that’s because SF is an awesome city, a lot of people want to live here, and the amount of housing hasn’t increased at anything like the rate that people have been moving here. The shuttles are nothing more than a symptom of the tech boom.

So let’s not waste any more time talking about them, and instead focus our energy on finding ways to increase housing or make housing more affordable.

How I Ended Up On The Beach

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There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind of people who enjoy making cold calls, and the kind of people who don’t.

Having worked as a student caller for my college’s annual fund, I can tell you it takes a very special kind of crazy to enjoy cold calling. While some people find steady defamation and rejection to be motivating, I simply do not. My greatest frustration lay in the fact that if I could get someone on the phone, nine times out of ten I could get them to donate. Unfortunately, the chances of getting anyone to (happily) answer their phone between 5PM and 7PM, prime dinner/relaxation/ family time, were slim to none. Alumni were annoyed, even furious, at being disturbed and I in turn was frustrated beyond belief. Our sales manager could not for the life of her understand why we weren’t able to pump cash out of alumni the way students had in the pre-recession years. It was almost as if people suddenly prefered to donate online, on their own time. Shocking.

After a year I threw in the towel. Making a decent commission every once in a while simply wasn’t worth the hours of frustration, which I felt sedimented into my psyche long after work was over. I knew deep down there had to be a better way.

Fast forward three years.

I’m three weeks into a job with an awesome (super early stage) startup called Sales Beach. We’re automating outbounds sales, which means no more horrible cold calling. The opportunity to build a business from the ground up is fantastic, and more fun than I ever could have anticipated. My team is incredible, and I feel lucky to be working in a four person company that allows me the freedom to figure out which skills I want to strengthen, and which I want to gain. Who knows what the future will hold, but for now I’m enjoying working from the beach.

:)

Ps. check out my writing for the Sales Beach blog here.