2013 review

Posted: January 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm in journal

I’m a little late to this, but a 2013 review is an easy post to kick off my theoretically renewed commitment to blogging in 2014.

For the first time since joining Google in September of 2008, I wasn’t completely swamped by work, and thus had time to invest in the rest of my life as well as in my job.

At work, I started a new role in November of 2012 as the chief of staff to the product VP of AdWords. Instead of the fire drills and processes of finance (month close P&Ls, budget planning cycles, etc), my role was more open-ended, helping out on whatever concerned my boss, whether it was strategic questions, coordinating with sales or finance, or nailing down operational processes. The lack of structure was both wonderful (I wasn’t working like crazy) and terrifying (it was up to me to get the right stuff done without much direction). I’m still figuring out how best to focus on the big questions and issues facing Google, and convert my hand-waving ramblings into concrete actions and forward progress, but it’s a great opportunity to use my generalist tendencies and meld my finance and technology and product management perspectives.

Outside of work, I decided that 2013 was the year of Yes – whenever I heard about something that sounded intriguing, I said yes and did it, even if it wasn’t something I would normally do (with confidence built by my India trip last December and my bike tour last July).

  • I went to both Overlap and Yes By Yes Yes despite knowing nothing about either “conference” beforehand, and actually talked to people I didn’t know (which is terrifying for introverts like me) and made new friends that had no connection to my existing circles.

  • I went backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness despite not having done a backpacking trip in 10 years.
  • I went to a wedding in Milwaukee where I only knew the bride and groom, and I was nervous that I’d be that weird guy off by himself all weekend, but I was welcomed with open arms by their friends and had a fantastic time (we went trap shooting and saw the Fonz!).
  • I went to Tulum, Mexico, even though I didn’t think beach vacations were for me.
  • I took a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon!
  • I volunteered for the MIT Venture Mentoring Service despite not having been an entrepreneur myself and not being sure what I could add. It turns out I have plenty of thoughts to offer the company I’m advising (I don’t know how useful it is to them, but I’m having fun so far :) ).
  • I started mountain biking, which I’d never really done despite having a mountain bike for ten years – it had always been my commuting bike, but after buying a dedicated commuter bike a couple years ago, it was time to actually use my mountain bike on the trails. I’m still terrified of hurting myself, but I’m gaining confidence slowly.
  • I even made a real effort at dating, going on ~50 dates with ~20 women. While that effort did not result in a relationship, I considered it a success in getting more comfortable with putting myself out there, talking to people I didn’t know, and building my social confidence.

To balance all the new things, I returned to a couple old familiar activities. Over the summer, I started playing volleyball regularly for the first time in years, finding a group of coworkers to play doubles with on the sand volleyball court at Google a couple times a week. And in the fall, I started singing again, joining the Collage Vocal Ensemble, a small chamber group in Los Altos. Plus there was the occasional pickup ultimate frisbee game at Google or weekend road bike ride (like this overnight trip to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse).

It was a good year. Now I have to figure out what my focus will be for 2014. Since 2013 was an outward year, this might be an inward year – thinking and reading and writing more. I’d like to update this blog more regularly with “Deep Thoughts I Have Thunk” (™ Jofish) and read more challenging books. I also want to more regularly have challenging conversations with people that stretch my mind – it might be time for me to restart SF salons for that purpose. We shall see.

Regardless, happy new year! Hope y’all have a great 2014.

7 Responses to “2013 review”

  1. Seppo Says:

    In the vein of “deep thoughts I have thunk” and our continuing discussions of Facebook, combined with the number of people we know who have interesting insights into development/entrepreneurship/building shit/managing people/trying to find better ways of doing stuff, it really feels like a monthly “Hey, let’s get together and eat some awesome food and talk to each other about crap” would be a lot more fun and a lot more interesting than a FB post or ten.

  2. Seppo Says:

    Of course, having said that, were you to organize such a thing, 99% sure I wouldn’t be able to make it due to kids. :P

  3. Eric Says:

    Seppo, agreed that having more regular in-person discussions would be good. That’s what I meant by restarting salons. I should just pick a regular day and start doing it – if I give you enough notice, you might be able to make it :) How does first Wednesday of the month sound?

  4. Jenn Steele Says:

    Ooh. Salons would be awesome.

    Really interested in chatting more about the introspection.

    …and I really should get off my butt and contribute to that Facebook discussion on hiring…

  5. Seppo Says:

    2/5 is definitely a possibility. Might only be able to show up after … 9pm, but if things are still going that late, then it’s almost certainly a yes.

  6. Lilia Says:

    Eric, I don’t know if you are finding these dates via the internet, but I recently enjoyed reading “Data: A Love Story”. It might help and isn’t a big commitment — I bet it would take you a day to finish.

  7. Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist » Blog Archive » Maximizing collisionability Says:

    […] where I have unplanned interactions that can spur new thoughts? I made some effort at that in my Year of Yes last year by going to new conferences and trying new things, but how can I build on that? One thing […]

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