I like routine in my life, it helps minimize those nasty unforeseen variables. Christina calls me her Sheldon and I take that as a compliment. I'd also like to consider myself a highly functioning Sheldon for the record. Because of my love for routine, life can sometimes feel a bit like riding on a Ferris Wheel. Get up with Lizzy (she has my unnatural need for sleep), get ready, drive 1.5 hours to work, work at work, drive another 1.5 hours home, have dinner, get the kids down, spend some time with Christina, knock a few small tasks out for my various personal projects, and repeat.
By the way, when I say life can feel like a Ferris Wheel, that isn't always a bad thing. Ask my parents about the Great America trip where they forever cured me of roller coasters. I like the Ferriss Wheel just fine, thank you.
The end of each year is one of my favorite times in life because it tends to slow down, a bit, and allows me the ability to pause and reflect. Past years I've focused a lot on me and it is really great that you are here and reading this, but I've been having this shift in thought where I'm focusing a lot more of my writing and projects on you, yes you. Whoever you are reading this, buckle your Ferris Wheel seatbelt and hold on because this year I'm going to focus much of this article on what I've learned that could help others. Life begins to scale when people teach and others are willing to consider. By the way, my favorite explanation for the meaning of life is simply this: having a life of purpose.
The topic of how one can scale their life begins with how often they teach. The interesting thing for me about writing is it will allow my kids, and anyone else in the entire world to read what I find interesting, funny, and most important, what I've learned. Reading what I wrote eight years ago can be quite entertaining and enlightening because it demonstrates to myself and the world, my context of life at that moment in time.
Teaching can come in many forms whether it be just the act of living so that others can model your behavior as well as the more referred to methods such as writing and speaking. Whatever method you choose really depends on you, and many choose all or sometimes none of them. I have always said "don't be a leech", or someone who simply consumes what others give. The more you share in life, the more will be shared with you.
2015: Lessons Learned
2015 was a busy year, probably my busiest. I used to think busy was the goal, and it is to a degree, but I heard a quote that made me change that opinion from Derek Sivers while he was on the Tim Ferriss podcast.
“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.” – Derek Sivers
There are outliers to almost every argument, and you can certainly argue that you can't just rest on your laurels either. I think what Derek is saying is if you find that the majority of your life is dictated, you aren't in control. If life controls you, you are living someone else's life. If you are beyond your thirties, think back to when you were the happiest. My guess is you will answer your very early twenties, or if you are retired, you will answer "right now." I have a theory which is in your early twenties you are just starting out on your own path. You have limited responsibilities, and you have the time to act upon your creative endeavors. Next, when you retire you are able to decide what you want to do and when you want to do it. That is if you still have your health. The thing is, the more you can control your environment, as opposed to the environment controlling you, the happier you will be.
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.” - Seth Godin
Think about my very first paragraph of this article for a second. Without fully knowing what I would write about the year, I chose to start with professing my love of routines. Routine brings consistency and one may argue consistency can often bring control. I did my fair share of interviewing candidates for other teams and one of my favorite questions to ask a candidate is "tell me about your favorite boss/manager. What did you like about working for that person?" The question itself is a softball and nobody has done a poor job answering it. The answers, maybe not surprisingly, are often very similar. I have yet to hear a candidate say "you know, Jeremy, the best boss I had really micromanaged me. He didn't let me express myself and he didn't listen to my ideas. Man, I loved working for that guy!" There are exceptions to almost every rule, but I really feel people are created to exercise their talents and passions. Do what you find yourself daydreaming about.
Despite 2015 being my most busy year, one thing I have taken full advantage of is the time commuting. 2014 was the year of the book, 2015 was the year of the podcast for me.
While I'm on the topic of media, the other habit I've fallen into is following vloggers. If you know me personally you know I'm obsessed with YouTube and it is tough for me to listen to a conversation without interjecting with "have you seen the YouTube video of...?" In 2015 I started following Roman Atwood because he is incredibly positive, of course entertaining, a family man, and boy does he know how to build a community.
The other vlogger I followed in 2015 was Casey Neistat. I didn't discover Casey until mid year, but I really enjoy his videos.
2015 in Pictures
Not so Happy Holidays from the Persons!
Lizzy at a birthday party
Me and my boy
Me and my girl
The Person family
Tyler winning big
Some of my favorite people
At the park with the kids
My book loving girls
Louvre in Paris
Fishing with Poppi
My science girl
Star Wars day at Costco :)
Bring Your Kids to Work Day
Christina and the kids
2015 in Videos
For some reason over the Thanksgiving holiday, I got inspired to send silly videos to family members who couldn't be in Portland with us. I don't remember the first idea, but whatever it was, it didn't hold a candle to the "let's make a Grey Poupon parody video" idea.
My final video My sister's family video My sister's family blooper reel
Tyler's big speech (he had to memorize a poem) for his second grade class. I was so proud!
2015: I Achieved Some Goals!
My crowning achievement for 2015 was I didn't have any soda or sugary drinks the entire year. That was no small feat. With mixed success I accomplished some other goals, but not drinking soda for a year was the one I really stuck with. I have found my stubbornness (I prefer to see it as willfulness), can have some very useful applications. When I set my mind to doing something, it really takes a lot to shake me from that goal. Another of my personality traits is passion. I'm one passionate dude so if you tie together passion with willfulness, that can lead to interesting things if pointed in the right direction. That is another reason I enjoy resolutions is it tends to be my North Star each year I can run towards. With that said, if I was to calculate the percent of resolutions I was successful at throughout the years, I would bet it would be less than 10 percent.
Let's next talk about lessons learned attempting to achieve my resolutions the past 7 years. Part of my problem, and I assume I am not alone in this, is I get busy and it isn't that I don't want to achieve the goal, but rather life gets in the way. There are many productivity methods out there but my favorite has been Seinfeld's productivity method.
"He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here's how it works. He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain." - Gina Trapani on Lifehacker, 2007
I created the framework for a resolutions app last year as I set out to, but it didn't get finished. In 2016 I should have no problem finishing it to help keep myself reminded and more accountable.
By the way, have you seen that Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee episode yet? See, I can't help myself!
"A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napolean Hill
I started at Netflix in 2016 based partly on my 2015 resolution to not "spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door." Things are going well at Netflix with a few areas I'd still tweak for sure, but it better suits me than AWS at this juncture. I don't think I've spent any time writing about this, but one of the things I started years ago was a Google Doc which highlights all of the "business lessons learned." If I learned something interesting or experienced something that wasn't ideal, I wrote about it. A lot of times I find if you focus on framing life as teachable lessons, it helps me think about things in a more positive light and by writing it. By writing down your lessons learned you can pull them out (or write about them publicly so your message scales) when your kids or friends confide in you. I plan to use those business lessons learned for other uses if the right opportunity knocks.
In 2015 I set out to do 12 blog posts and I cheated a bit on that one because many of those posts are simply just me posting photos of some trips. I spent much of 2015 coding up side projects and I can 100 percent guarantee 2016 to be the same. Don't expect a ton of blog posts from me in 2016, but I would love to take the time and redesign the site which is long overdue. I really enjoy custom projects such as this one though as blogging frameworks can be great for scalability of your content, but it can leave something to be desired on the creativity and innovation side. In my new employee college course I got a chance to hear the CEO talk for about an hour. I'm paraphrasing but while at previous companies he found that if he dummfied something, only dummies would want to use it and it was a whole lot less fun. The same can be said for blogging platforms for me.
2016: Rinse & Repeat
As I've already stated, 2014 was the year of books, 2015 the year of podcasts, and I am hoping 2016 to be the year of health. I've always preferred getting outside but I've found 3 months of the year in Northern California to not be the best environment to be in before and after the kids are asleep (too cold). I'm seriously considering joining the gym Christina goes to. Can you believe that? Jeremy at the gym in 2016. Crazier things have happened. I think.
I really enjoyed the trip to Europe in 2015 and would love to do another big trip in 2016. Being able to see the world is easily one of my favorite things I've done.
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - Saint Augustine
I'm not going to make a lot of resolutions for myself this year but the last one will be important. Because I have been so busy in 2015, I'd like to in 2016 take as much control back of my time and life as possible. For the past few years control has looked like many things. I've started learning, but not just learning, applying that learning. The future belongs to those who create. If you know me you know I have a lot of crazy ideas, but getting others to help build out those crazy ideas can be difficult. The concept doesn't scale, but for now I have been loving learning and just having fun applying that learning in fun and creative ways. I think it is very safe to say that 2016 should be another very creative year for me.