Don't Wait

San Francisco, CA

If you want something badly enough, go get it. Start making steps to get it now.

While at RIT I spent some time talking to high school students who were interested in computer related fields as well as entrepreneurship. I've had plenty of experience in this area and that's why they asked me over and over again to speak and present at events both on campus and off (including various universities).

The reason I'm qualified? I didn't wait.

When I was five years old we got our first family computer. I spent countless hours tinkering with it. When I was 11 I built my first website. I taught myself how to program when I was 12 and sold my first website when I was 13. I didn't wait for someone to allow me to do it, I simply did it.

I started companies without knowing a single thing about LLCs or Corporations. When I wanted to do something, I did it. The tools are available everywhere. Books, the internet, videos, and other people are valuable resources. Every day you wait is another day wasted.

I failed, and I failed a lot. It sucked and sometimes I thought that if I had waited, I wouldn't have failed, that is, if I did nothing it would have been better than doing it at all. This is incredibly wrong and horrible advice.

Some of the startups and companies didn't work at all and by other people's standards they were failures, but I don't think that's accurate. Each one of these "failures" was actually a success.

When you fail, an opportunity exists to learn from it. If you take the time to reflect you'll gain something much more valuable than the summation of "failures".

I gained so much knowledge each time something didn't work out. This knowledge provided me with more wisdom and opened new opportunities and paths in various directions.

I had no idea what I was doing until I started doing it. Experiencing something is the best way to learn about it. Once I started going down those paths, I started learning so much. If you never go down the path, you'll miss out.

You can turn failures into successes through reflection. As long as you keep moving, you'll never truly fail.

Do something now; don't wait.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

My Grandfather (Gabe Paul)

San Francisco, CA

This is my grandfather in a nutshell:

December 16, 1947

Gentlemen:

I have received the three receipted bills for services rendered by Children's Hospital to my five year old son, Warren, a victim of polio.

The notations on the bills indicate that a total of $137.22 was paid by the Hamilton County Chapter of National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Inc. While I appreciate greatly your paying this bill, I cannot conscientiously accept it because I feel there must be needier cases than ours. Therefore, I am closing my check for $137.22 to reimburse the foundation for the payments made on behalf of Warren.

I hope you do not think that I am unappreciatitive, I am not, because I certainly am impressed with the manner in which the polio foundation operates, and am familiar with the many fine things which are being done. It is very comforting to know that there is an organization such as yours on the job to assit the recovery of children sticken by polio. I am closing the check only because I believe that it would be unfair of me to accept your payment of Warren's account.

With every kind wish,
Cordially,
Gabriel Paul.


I'm so proud to be his grandson. We need more people like Gabe.

Hello Charlie →

San Francisco, CA

I'd love to share with you what I've been working on. It's called charlie and it's an experience concierge in your pocket. 

We're working really hard to build something truly amazing and we think you're going to love it.

You can sign up for the beta here: http://hellocharlie.me

Presence of Mind

San Francisco, CA

I'm about to reveal all the secrets to successful marketing. Are you ready for it?

People ask me all the time, "How do you do it?" Well, it's quite simple and you can't ignore it. Marketing is not one of those things that is not easily executed. It takes time.

As a concept marketing is simple. Once you understand it, it seems obvious; Obvious things are the hardest things to acknowledge. When things are obvious, it's hard to not ignore them.

Phones with touch screens are obvious, computers that fold up with a screen and keyboard are now obvious, and social networking is obvious.

If there's anything that I've learned about marketing, it's that presence of mind trumps all other cards and for the longest time I thought this was too obvious – that it was too easy to be true.

I just saw an awesome picture from Wall•E on Facebook. It's not a picture of the DVDs or a box set, it's a really cool photo of Wall•E in space, but Wall•E has already come out. It came out five years ago and it made me want to go watch the movie again.

Some say that if you surround yourself with good things, then you're more likely to do those good things. If you surround yourself with hockey, for instance, then you're more likely do to things related to hockey. Personally, choosing to do something related to hockey is easy. I'm surrounded by hockey and therefore it's on my mind.

There isn't much more to it than that. Share good stuff, share it often, remove your ego, and provide value. Execution? That's the hard time consuming part. If you nail the concept and execution, you'll hit a home run every time.

It really is that simple.

I don't want to sleep with you anymore

North Beach, San Francisco, California

It's been a lot of fun. You always make interesting noises and never smell bad. There's this glow about you that's heavenly, especially at night. You are slender, fit, and sexy.

Your elegance is astounding and you always understand me. You are so fun to touch and play with. You have a great sense of humor. When I turn you on, I never want to turn you off.

You are great company and are always there when I need you, but I need you too much. It's not you, it's me.

It's hard for me to get out of bed when you're sleeping with me. I can't control my urges around you. It's amazing, but I think we have to end it. I cant let myself be distracted by you anymore.

It's over.

Dear iPhone, from now on, you can sleep on the couch.

Quick Wins Amongst Long Battles

San Francisco, California

It was an accidental experiment when I stopped doing quick wins and noticed the affect it had on me personally. I didn't mean for it to happen, it was simply because I started focusing on some really big and time consuming features and integrations. They were really important, features, but what was more important is how I felt day to day and without the quick wins, I began losing some energy.

Luckily, I work with the most amazing and smart people and they1 pulled me aside asking if there was anything they could do to help. This was when I realized what I was doing wrong. I used to knock off these little victories quite frequently. I was super productive and it felt really good. It all sort of changed recently and here's what I learned:

Over the past two weeks I've been really focused on huge tasks. Consumed is a better word, really. I had stopped doing quick little tasks (or wins as I like to call them) which boosted my energy, happiness, and productivity. These little wins brought instant gratification, which makes me very excited and productive.

Not having these quick wins every day slowly took a toll on my mental health. The longer tasks and integrations slowly broke me down. I didn't have the instant gratifications every day that I was used to. It's like the drops of water that slowly weather down stones. I didn't realize that a little drop can have such a large impact. Eventually, as the drops persist, the stone becomes small and insignificant. I never wanted to feel insignificant.

The quick wins help increase my energy and productivity. I'm mentally sharper when I set aside time each day to knock some of them out. I've dedicated time each and every day to knock them out. It's a vital process, and I think everyone who works hard could benefit from it.

I'm not sure if I would have fully realized the impact that they have if this hadn't happened. It was the absence of the quick wins, the increased energy and productivity that made me realize how important they truly are.

  1. Thanks Joel and Leo :)

Moving RIT48 to the Fall

This is the full unedited letter I sent to the RIT48 team this year. I wanted to publicly share it so everyone has the opportunity to understand the decision.

This is not going to be the easiest decision or process, but I think it's for the best.

RIT48 is an incredible brand. The past 3 years have been amazing and the 4th year will be even better.

I've given it a lot of thought and the fall makes a lot of sense. Here's why:

  1. It's always been really hard to get sponsors for RIT48. I've always pitched RIT48 as an event that companies could use as recruiting tools and most companies of those have exhausted their budgets and efforts for recruiting. The fall is a perfect fit for this.
  2. The students are fresh. Some of them have just come out of co-op and others have just joined the school. They are actively pursuing new events and activities and I strongly believe this will help us build the RIT48 brand.
  3. People have energy in the fall. This is great especially for a high energy event such as RIT48.
  4. The weather isn't getting nicer and senior-itis hasn't set in yet.

If we are going to move RIT48 to the fall, this is the perfect time.

We have few participants and judges. I don't look at this as a negative but a positive. An opportunity for change. An opportunity for a new RIT48, a better RIT48.

Before we publicly announce such a change, we'll need to make a few things happen:

  1. Judges will need to be notified. Since we're only at 3 judges, it's a better problem to have now than if we had 5 or 6. I think if we let them know that we'd love to have him in the fall and we're preparing for a much bigger and better event, that things will be better and they'll understand.
  2. Sponsorship money: we want to find out if we can hold onto this until the fall.
  3. Current registrants should also be notified explaining the changes and why we've decided to move it to the fall. I think if they are to be future alumni, we should allow them to participate in the fall event.
  4. We'll have to cancel the room reservations. Might be a good time to reserve the rooms for the fall (if possible). This way we can not only get the Innovation center, but also guarantee the rooms that we want.

I really believe this is the best thing to do for RIT48.

What do you guys think? It's not going go be easy, but if we're honest and transparent, I strongly believe they'll believe in RIT48.

P.S. Your hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. We are insanely grateful for everything that you and everyone else has done for RIT48 and the betterment of the community, seriously, I can't thank you enough.

Kayaking

Hayes Valley, San Francisco, CA

It wasn't too long ago that I got rid of everything and moved to California. I left a lot behind in Rochester to move to the land of fruit and nuts, but one things that I didn't leave behind was something very valuable that I had learned.

It wasn't something directly related from the discourse at RIT, it was something I learned outside the classroom.

One of the most valuable things I learned was when I went kayaking down the Genesee with Rob. It was one of the last days in Rochester and also one of the most valuable.

It was my first time kayaking outside of a pond. Rob is an expert kayaker and was surpassing me with fewer strides. Every time I dipped my paddle in the water and stroked towards the aft, the bow of my kayak turned one way or another. After many more strokes, I was going diagonally. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to know that the most efficient route between two places is a straight line.

I asked Rob several times how he's able to go so fast and straight down the water. After all, he was the expert and it was a simple answer once we got to the bottom of it: tons of minor adjustments made solely based on the last move. If I started angling to the right, I'd pull a little less hard on the left and vise-versa.

These minor adjustments had become muscle memory in many other things that I've done. Whether it be playing ice hockey, working with computers, or brushing my teeth, they all had faded into my life naturally.

When I started realizing that I needed to consciously make minor adjustments, then I allowed myself to go in a straight line with less effort. Over time, it's become natural. It faded away into muscle memory.

These sorts of minor adjustments are paramount when trying to get better at something new or old. When I started paddling, I was taking the mechanical and inefficient brute force method. I kept cranking away hoping that things would change and my muscle memory would kick in, but I kept moving diagonally. When I was able to realize that most things in life aren't mechanical tasks that you can simple brute force and crank away at, I began going in a straight line.

It works for so many different things, too. Cooking, learning, sleeping, self improvement, getting young kids to listen to you, programming, driving, and so much more.

The next time you're driving a car or riding a bike, pay attention to how your hands and body automatically steer yourself hundreds of times per minute even when going in a straight line. You'll be amazed – just as I was – of how much your sub conscious does things naturally when they're in muscle memory.

You should follow me on twitter here

P.S. If you don't believe that small changes can make a difference, watch this TED Talk.

Thanks to Andy and Mary Kay for reading versions of this.