‘A Guerilla Gardener’

Dec 2

In: Social justice

On my way to work the other day, I listened to a podcast from TED Radio Hour, called “Giving It Away.” One of the speakers was Ron Finley. Intrigued, I watched his TED Talk (up top, or click here).

It is riveting.

Finley lives in an area that has a lack of healthy food options. Sick of that, he and some colleagues planted a garden in a vacant lot. He said he was tired of the reality he saw, and so, he wanted to manufacture his own reality.

The vegetables are free to the community. He asks people to help him and contribute hours to the garden.

I think all that is great, and I wanted to share it. I love stories about people who refuse to accept the status quo. I love it when people take action.

Hawaiian Smoothies

Nov 30

In: Career management, Philosophy

One of the things I love doing is meeting with college students or recent graduates about life advice and career management topics. I cannot meet with everyone, but do the best that I can.

This morning, I met with one of my son’s former high school classmates, whom I’ll call Bill to protect his privacy. He wanted feedback on a website that he has built. I’ve also been advising him on how to network in the business world.

Bill this summer decided to do something different: move to Hawaii, pay for everything himself, and learn how to surf.

Bill took a room at a family friend’s house and found a job making smoothies. He wanted to work at a place that could give him free lunches.

For breakfast, he had a pack of instant oatmeal, for he had filled his guitar with a bunch of them and brought all that with him. He often for meals ate only peanut butter, straight out of the jar.

“So,” I asked, “what did you learn from it all?”

Bill thought for a bit. He learned to make new friends by joining hiking groups.

He also mentioned how odd it was to be the only white person in his neighborhood. Bill said that some native Hawaiians harbor hard feelings towards whites. Someone in the truck at one point got verbally aggressive.

Bill also said that he had to learn the informal protocol about surfing. The locals were totally cool, but if you cut off one of them while surfing, there could be violence.

Finally, Bill said how grateful he was to be home, to find a fridge and a pantry full of food.

As I’ve blogged before, I often encourage my children to seek out new experiences, to take a gap year if they can, or to get a minimum wage job. I think getting a new perspective on life can be very illuminating.

I told Bill that working at a smoothie shop may not seem like much, but that, IMO, he was learning a lot about himself. I think that’s a key component of career management: self-awareness.

Bill says he cannot bear the thought of drinking another smoothie. But, I think he gained a lot more in exchange.
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‘How Do Lobsters Grow?’

Nov 28

In: Brain hacking, Family life

As a VC, a theme that often comes up with entrepreneurs is stress management. It also comes up as a parent, as I both try to coach my children and practice what I preach to them.

Recently, a friend on Facebook mentioned the above video (or, click here). It is a quick 90 seconds and is filled with real wisdom about stress and how to view it.

‘December Song’

Nov 27

In: Family life, Music, Personal

Two of our children recently retreated to the basement for a few hours. The area down there doubles as an informal recording studio. So, I suspected that we were going to be treated to a music video.

And, we were. It is up top (or, click here). I love all of it, and minute 0:37 is particularly touching, as is the last scene in the yard.

It has been a truly joyful Thanksgiving for our family. We ate well and had some bonding time. We yesterday did some outdoor chores as a family. One of our children has been on a roll with her baking: brownies, apple pie, apple crisp, raspberry tarts, and chocolate cake.

This morning, we drop off our son back at his college. We will slide back on Monday to a normal schedule of work and school.

But, Advent and the holiday season are here. It is a special time of year.

Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’

Nov 25

In: Books, Comedy, Family life, Race, Social justice

My best wishes to everyone for a safe and restorative holiday weekend.

At our home, we divided up the cooking responsibilities, and everyone pitched in. I’m grateful that Mrs. T. cooked the turkey, which came out great. Her father and stepmother came over.

It was a relaxing day.

All the downtime gave me time to read Trevor Noah’s book, Born a Crime, his autobiography that was both hilarious and moving. I regularly watch excerpts of him from The Daily Show. He has an incredible gift for imitating people (video up top, or click here).

Noah was born as an illegal child during apartheid in South Africa. His mother is black, and his father is white. His mother was jailed and fined for having him. When they were walking outside, and if they saw a policeman, she would let go of his hand and have to pretend that she didn’t know him.

He writes movingly about living conditions under “apart hate,” as he calls it. I don’t know how he does it, but he weaves in many funny comments, too.

It’s a great book. Both enjoyable and thought-provoking.