I have many mentors

I have four mentors.

I have a loose definition of the word “mentor”. They aren’t people who I can call at any moment, but some of them are. In fact, two of them have no clue who I am. But they’re all my mentors because I can predict how they’d respond to my questions, I’ve chatted with them enough or I’ve read enough of their writing.

I didn’t call them my mentors until recently. It feels especially weird to call someone your mentor when you’ve never met them. That was until I read a blog post by Derek Sivers where he talks about his mentors, and they look similar to the people I have in my life. I realized, those four people are my mentors. And this idea has been liberating. I don’t have to be in the same place, at the same time, with that perfect person, to eventually have a “mentor”. I’ve seen enough of what my mentors have to say that I find myself quoting them, to other people, and to myself. They’re always there for me, I only need to ask.

📚 Book Review - Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers

Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers book cover

I recently read Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers. Derek labels himself as someone who’s been a “musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and book publisher.” He frequently writes on his blog and has a podcast. “Hell Yeah or No” is a collection of his writings, made into chapters, and organized into sections. The book is about life, about what’s worth doing, saying no and saying yes, fixing faulty thinking, and making things happen. Everything in this book is freely available online, you can read the entire book on his website.

I’ve consumed Derek’s work for years. I’ve read most of his blog, listened to all of his podcasts, and read his first book. So, it was only natural that I’d read his latest book. Although there’s nothing “new” in this book, Derek’s writings are worth re-reading, regularly. His writings are, as he puts it, a “counterpoint meant to complement the popular point”. I’m happy I took the time to re-read Derek’s work and I’ll continue to read everything that Derek publishes.

Since each chapter stands on its own, I want to highlight a few of my favorite chapters below.

“How you do anything is how you do everything. It all matters.”

“Say no to almost everything. … Saying no makes your yes more powerful.”

“You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.”

“If we hate doing something, we think of it as hard. We picture it having many annoying steps. If we love doing something, it seems simple.”

“To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re still learning.”

“The purpose of goals is not to improve the future. … Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment.”

“Legendary psychologist Abraham Maslow said it well: “Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.””

My rating is a 9 out of 10.

📚 Book Review - Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This month I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Little Fires Everywhere (LFE) is a story based in the Shaker Heights neighborhood just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Shaker Heights was thought to be one of the best neighborhoods in the country. The Richardsons, like most families in Shaker Heights, had a “proper” life; they had well-paying jobs, a big house, and beautiful children. Elena Richardson, a mother who prides herself in “giving back” to those less fortunate, rents out their second home to families in need, which is how we met the Warren family. Mia Warren, a single mother raising her only-daughter Pearl, doesn’t live a “proper” life. Mia and Pearl jump around a lot. Mia works odd jobs, earning just enough money to pay the bills but still leaving her enough time to pursue her passion, photography. Everything seems normal. The Warrens, different but unassuming. And the Richardsons, carefully crafted perfection. But under it all were small, though increasingly hot, fires. Elena’s prejudice, Mia’s carefully guarded past, and their children’s secrets and conflicts. Those little fires everywhere burned until there was nothing left.

I loved LFE! The story is wonderfully told and the writing is beautiful. The story is told through an omniscient narrator. The story starts at the end, a fire, and then jumps back to the beginning to work its way back up. I frequently found myself admiring sentences enough to reread them. The author touches on issues of race and class, that, on more than one occasion, lead to debates with my girlfriend (who doubles as my reading partner) about the morality of the events unfolding. And the end was sad, but filled with hope.

My rating is a 9 out of 10.

NFL 2020 Week 12 Picks Thanksgiving Special 🦃 🏈 🦃

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. Post-game comments in italics.

I’m 2 weeks in and I haven’t won a line yet, I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon. I’ve watched the NFL on Thanksgiving as far back as I can remember, so I thought I’d be fun to guess those games this year.

Thanksgiving Games

Texans -3 vs. LIONS - The Texans played surprisingly well last week. With this pick I’m hoping to will the Texans into relevancy. ✅ Did I do it??

COWBOYS -3 vs. Football Team - As bad as both of these teams are, I like the Cowboys at home on Thanksgiving. ❌ This Cowboys team is really bad

Sunday Games

Dolphins -7 vs. JETS - The Dolphins played so bad last week but I’m expecting them to bounce back this week. And as Nick Wright said, “the 0-16 Lions would 6.5pt favorites against this Jets team” ✅ The Jets really are that bad

Cardinals -2.5 vs. PATRIOTS - The Patriots were handled by a bad Texans team last week and the Cardinals have the best WR in the game. I like the Cardinals on the road this week. ❌ I’m not sure what to think about this Patriots team

Season to date (week 10-11): 2-7-1

NFL 2020 Week 11 Picks 🏈

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. Post-game comments in italics.

I started off with a terrible 0-2-1 last week, but I feel good about my picks this week.

Falcons +5 vs. SAINTS - The Falcons have looked good since firing Dan Quinn and with Brees out I think it’ll take a few games for Jameis Winston to get this Saints team up to form. ❌ Taysom Hill got the start, and played well!

Dolphins -3.5 vs. BRONCOS - The Dolphins made a great decision to start Tua and the team is looking really good. I think the Broncos are a decent football team but the Dolphins are better. ❌ I don’t feel bad about this pick, I think Tua will bounce back next week.

Patriots +2.5 vs TEXANS - As painful as it is for me to say this, the Texans suck this year. And after a strong performance against the Ravens, I like the Patriots chances. ❌ Even this terrible Texans team won, what a week.

Season to date (week 10-11): 0-5-1

Reactions to Apple's 'One More Thing' event

Last week was Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ event. Before the event, I laid out my thoughts and predictions. Now, I want to share my reactions.

First, what was announced? There are lots of great roundups of the event, sites like The Verge or Apple’s Newsroom, will have comprehensive rundowns. In short, Apple announced a new Macbook Air, a new 13-inch Macbook Pro, and a new Mac mini. What’s noteworthy about these new computers is they all have a first-of-its-kind Apple system-on-a-chip (SoC), the M1. Apple is promising these new computers will have significantly better battery life (nearly double!) and performance (2-3x) than their previous-generation counterparts. Alongside performance gains, these new computers will natively run iOS apps! M1 is built on top of ARM, the same architecture used by iPhones and iPads, enabling M1 computers to run most* of your favorite iOS apps and games. To answer the question posed at the beginning of the paragraph, Apple announced new computers, with serious performance improvements, that are able to run iOS apps.

Before the event I made a prediction:

Apple has decided now is the time to start the transition to ARM because its new chips will blow past current generation Macs in both CPU and GPU performance.

So how did I do? On the CPU-front, I was spot on. Apple says the new laptops will have 2x the performance of the previous-generation computers. Early benchmarks show significantly better single-core scores than previous generations, and better multi-core scores than all but the most powerful iMacs and Mac Pros. When it comes to GPU performance, it’s still a bit too early to tell. Apple says M1 has “the world’s fastest integrated graphics” and will have 2x the performance of the previous generation. But my prediction hinged on M1, with its integrated GPU, having better performance than other Macs with discrete GPUs. Early benchmarks show M1 being faster than a GTX 1050 Ti, though that card is now a few years old. More benchmarks are needed to understand M1s graphics performance profile. All in all, I’m going to say my prediction was a winner!

As exciting as some of these announcements are, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. First, Apple announced the transition to ARM, months ago. A lot of what was announced last Tuesday had been previously announced or could be reasonably assumed. Second, the transition to ARM has the potential to unlock new hardware features that we didn’t see, like cellular, or a touch screen, to make newly available iOS apps easier to use. Instead, these new computers are the same computers we had before, only faster and with better battery life. We might one day see cellular Macs with touch screens, but that day wasn’t today. I think that speaks to the Apple that exists today. A company that makes the best products in the world. But also a company that gradually improves those products. And perhaps, gone are the days when ‘One more thing’ meant something radical.

*App developers can opt-out of having their apps on the Mac

NFL 2020 Week 10 Picks 🏈

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. Post-game comments in italics.

I’m going to start publishing my weekly NFL picks on this blog. We’re already in week 10 of the NFL season, which means I’m only 10 weeks late. Here goes nothing.

TITANS -2 vs. Colts – I don’t think the Colts are a good team and I haven’t completely written off the Titans quite yet. It’s a divisional game so it won’t be a blowout but I like the Titan’s chances. ❌ Okay Colts, I see you.

Bills +2 vs CARDINALS - I like what the Bills showed me last week and I think there’s a little too much hype around Arizona right now. I like the Bills to win this game straight-up. 🖐 I’m so sad the Texans traded away DeAndre Hopkins.

BEARS +2.5 vs Vikings - I don’t think the 3-5 Vikings should be favored on the road against anybody. The Vikings have looked good recently and the Bears… haven’t, but the line is ridiculous. ❌ Of course this is the week that Cousins finally comes through.

Season to date (week 10): 0-2-1

Thoughts and Predictions about Apple's upcoming 'One More Thing' Event

Tomorrow (11/10/20) is Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ event 👨‍💻. Rumors have it that we’ll see the first ARM-powered Macs. The transition to ARM has a ton of upside but the plan for a successful ecosystem transition is murky. I’m excited to see what gets announced tomorrow. Of all the things I’m excited about, there are 2 things that standout: graphics performance and the future of software development on the Mac.

Graphics performance

Current-generation Macs are powered by a combination of Intel-built CPUs and discrete graphics cards. I suspect the transition to ARM will mean Apple will no longer be able to use discrete graphics cards. Meaning, Apple’s new chips will have Apple-built CPUs and GPUs. Based on the latest benchmarks of Apple’s A14 chip in the newest iPhones and iPads, I fully expect Apple Silicon to exceed the performance of Intel CPUs. I’m not as confident about GPU performance.

Prediction: Apple has decided now is the time to start the transition to ARM because it’s new chips will blow past current generation Macs in both CPU and GPU performance.

The future of software development on the Mac

Basically every software developer I know, including myself, writes code on a Mac. They’re beautiful computers and MacOS is a stellar operating system. Over the past decade, software developers have created a vast ecosystem of tools for the Mac. And more, most production systems use the same x86-64 architecture currently found on the Mac. Will developers ensure their ecosystem of tools run smoothly on the new ARM architecture? And will we start to see more ARM-based production systems?

Thoughts: I don’t think we’ll hear much on this tomorrow. Software developers are a curious bunch, so I suspect most tools will be updated to support ARM-based Macs. As for production systems, I don’t see a switch to ARM happening anytime soon. That leaves developers in a precarious position. My money is on there being a lot of talk, without much action, and things will end up mostly fine.

📚Book Review - The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

This past month (October 2020) I read The Guest List by Lucy Foley. The Guest List (TGL) is a murder-thriller involving a bride, a groom, and their guests at their private, no-expense-spared, wedding on a small island off the coast of Scotland. The bride, Jules, is the founder of a popular lifestyle website. The groom, Will, the host of a popular survival TV show. Jules and Will were perfect for each other, though a marriage after only a few months of dating did seem a bit odd. And so, at their wedding, with their family and oldest friends in attendance, Will and Jules are forced to confront each other’s true past, and the people in it. The outcome? Murder.

TGL is a fun read with an okay story that takes a while to get going. The book is told from many, first-person perspectives. Each chapter from the perspective of one of the 6 or so primary characters. The book does not follow a synchronous timeline, instead it jumps back and forth between the present and the night of the wedding (the end of the timeline). Overall, I quite enjoyed the first-person view of our characters and the book reached can’t-stop-reading territory for a brief moment. Unfortunately, it had an overly dramatic ending that is too familiar to most murder-thriller stories.

My rating is a 6 out of 10.

⏰ Now - Reflections on the past few months

Experiences in the last few days have left me feeling overwhelmingly sad. As I’ve been thinking about those experiences, and the experiences of the last few months a couple of things have started to emerge.

Being alone

One of my biggest fears was not knowing how I was going to cope with the isolation. The last time I faced this kind of isolation was when I first moved to New York, and I was incredibly lonely. I feared the same would happen this time. I’m still not sure how it’s going to go. I’ve been warned by friends that the path has many twists and turns, and that more really hard days are in my future. And I don’t have a tried-and-true method of dealing with “hard”. The thing I’ve turned to in the past has been food, but I’d like to find healthier ways to cope this time around. That being said, I have hope. I’ve spent a couple of years living alone and it turns out I’ve learned a thing or two!

Building (coding) things brings value to my life. There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a computer, staring at a blank screen, and bringing a thing to life. This, of course, is loaded, as most things are for me. Building has been a way to escape. A way to run away from hard (and scary) situations. A way to escape from dealing with my insecurities. And so, there’s also a lot of shame. A balance does exist, and now I have ample time to try to find it.

I really enjoy learning from my mentors (Derek Sivers, Jason Fried, Seth Godin, etc). Another way I’ve spent alone time in the past is consuming as much content as possible from the handful of people I really care about. I encounter new situations and learn how they handle them. I get exposed to new arguments and ways of thinking about the world. I learn a lot. I haven’t spent the past few months doing this and I’m itching to pick it back up.

Sadness

Though I have hope (and some experience) dealing with the road ahead I still, at times, experience an overwhelming amount of sadness. And in those times I feel like doing nothing. I feel like laying on the couch and watching TV for hours and hours. But there’s also a lot of shame in that. Shame that I’m not doing something more. Shame that I feel sad in the first place.

My experience with my therapist over the past few months can be summed up into a couple of words: “don’t judge the feeling”. On a small scale, I think I’ve made great progress. I have a much better handle on the daily barrage of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are driven by my insecurities. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. This (the overwhelming sadness) feels different. I don’t have a patronus to fight it off before it becomes all-consuming. And I still judge the feeling, when that feeling consumes hours and hours of my day. But, I have hope. During an early conversation I had with my therapist I argued that the best time to learn how to deal with something is in real time, when you’re experiencing it. She argued that the best time was before you experience it. I now know I was wrong. Coping with overwhelming emotions requires trained emotional muscles. Thankfully, I started regularly going to the gym a few months ago. I’m not yet strong enough. But I’m hopeful.

On being comfortable

Figuring out how to find my own comfort, in such uncertainty, will be my primary focus over the next few months. Because I know the reward in doing so will last well into the future. And I have hope. I have hope because I’m better equipped. And because I’m not going at it alone. Malayna, thank you for being kind, and patient, and full of wisdom.

🎙Podcast - Google Design Sprint and You - Part 2

I was a guest on The Rabbit Hole , a podcast by Stride, to continue our discussion about Google Design Sprints. I’ve included a portion of the episode’s summary below. I hope you enjoy!

It’s Tuesday morning at the Google Design Sprint. We all have our Crocs, our snacks, and our playlists… For part two of our series on the Google Design Sprint, we had Kirsten Nordine and Stephen Meriwether join us again to share all their experiences about day two, three and four!

⏰ Now - Work & Quarantine

Work & Quarantine

Most of my life right now is centered around work and being quarantined due to COVID-19. At work, my mentor has put me in charge of one of the companies business units. I spend most of my time not as a programmer, but as business leader. It’s a great opportunity that aligns well with my career goals. Though in the short-term it’s been challenging to shift my mindset away from programming and towards leading. It’s been stressful. I’ve started going back to therapy to help manage the stress.

We’re all figuring out ways to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m no different. I’m grateful to my many good friends that I’ve spend hours on the phone with and once virtually cooked with! Cooking over Zoom is really fun, I should continue to do that after this all boils over. With all this time at home I’ve decided to narrow my media consumption, to only a handful of people. One of those people is Derek Sivers, I’m very much enjoying Season 2 of the Derek Sivers Podcast.

I’ve started spending a lot of time with a friend and ex-coworker. She’s an incredible person and a big reason why I’ve stayed sane while quarantined these past few weeks. It’s still early in our relationship but I’m excited to see where it goes.

🎙Podcast - 9 Roles for Creating Results or Growing a Team w/ Esther Derby

I was a guest on The Rabbit Hole , a podcast by Stride, to talk with Esther Derby. I’ve included a portion of the episode’s summary below. I hope you enjoy!

On a very special episode 100, Dave, William and Stephen have a conversation with the esteemed Esther Derby about the various roles that we take on as Team Members and Leaders when we’re responsible for the team’s results ORRR for the team’s growth.