2014 Resolutions

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” ― Paulo Coelho, Alchemist

2013 in Review:

Something I haven’t done in past resolutions is reflect on the past year. 2013 was one of my more difficult years, I have to admit. I even checked with Christina tonight to verify I wasn’t missing anything. In 2014 I’m ready to get some big wins again.

  • My cat Eclipse had to be put down
  • My dad had heart surgery
  • Lizzy walked
  • Tyler completed his first tball season
  • Tyler learned to ride a bike
  • Tyler started first grade
  • Rolled out a social network at work
  • After 14 great years, I was laid off at work
  • I completed the first draft of my online resume (plug)

Past resolutions:

2013 in review:

One of the first things I talked about at the start of 2013 was the number of blog posts I had shared with the world. At that time I was at 2,900 posts and as of today I am at 2,966 posts. I think I’m learning something that many of you were already aware of with blogging. I focused a lot of my energy on sharing many things I thought you would be interested in because I really enjoy sharing what I learn or discover in life. I’ll continue sharing but perhaps in another way. I’ve been working on a platform since 2008 that I have been obsessed with. A tool I use every day but know others won’t find value in as is today. With more dedicated personal time on my hands as of late I’ve tried each day to make incremental improvements to it. I say all of this to reassure you that I haven’t lost my love of blogging, or sharing, but rather hope in 2014 I can share with you what I’ve been working on and how much I’ve contributed to the platform myself.

The next thing I discussed in my 2013 resolutions was I wanted to be able to do 50 consecutive push-ups.  This goal hasn’t been accomplished for a number of reasons. The first is 50 consecutive push-ups is difficult and difficult resolutions are often the most challenging to accomplish. The second is with two kids and everything life demands, focusing on something you would think you could work on at almost any time and any place just never took priority.  My right arm has been nagging me as of late. I never had it looked at by a professional but back in high school I think I tore one of the muscles in my arm playing baseball. If I let my arm rest for a while it doesn’t ache but carrying around a 26 pound baby at extended lengths of time has aggravated it again. It isn’t a constant pain but flares up when my arm is stressed.

I also talked about taking more pictures. Interestingly that hasn’t been happening as of late and I’m not exactly sure why. I got a digital SLR camera which has broken once, I sent it back for repairs, and on a recent trip to Monterey it broke yet again. The SLR camera is great but it is cumbersome to carry around and I’ve never been happy with my point and shoot (especially once I got my SLR). I know I can’t “have my cake and eat it too” but somehow I became more disinterested in taking pictures.

I brought up “rocking the ping pong” and I think I did. Safeway buying a table and letting us play on Friday afternoons in an empty conference room was fantastic on so many levels.  One of the more interesting and unexpected things I found as a result of playing ping pong at work was the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t normally bump into. Managing Safeway’s intranet you get to know a lot of people from a wide range of departments but each department usually had certain employees I interacted with. Ping pong was great because I was able to play something I’ve always loved and have a great time with new people. One of my favorite things about ping pong in 2013 was playing with members of our team and seeing their skills evolve. There was a ping pong tournament towards the end of the year and due to part luck of the draw, and part determination I even made it into the finals (but lost). At the end of the day it wasn’t so much about winning or losing for me, it was just getting a chance to have fun with colleagues. That isn’t to say I like to lose, I’m one of the most competitive people I know, but I will always remember all the great times we had.

Probably my least favorite resolution was making the bed each day in 2013. I don’t think I came anywhere close on this one I have to be completely honest. If you go back to past resolutions you’ll see I seem to have this as a recurring resolution but in 2014 I’m not including it. One of the things I’m learning is life gets busy and you prioritize your time accordingly. Almost all of 2013 was incredibly busy and this will sound wrong but I just had better things to do with my time (higher priorities) than worrying about if the bed was made.

Teach Tyler to ride a bike without training wheels.  It took a lot of trials and tribulations but ladies and gentleman I am proud to announce he did it. As a matter of fact he’s actually outgrown the bike in the video and got a new 18″ bike for Christmas. Hard to believe he’ll be 7 years old in May.

Run a 5k with an average pace of less than 10 minutes a mile. I started this goal out with a vengeance but just as I was about to run my first 5k I came down with a horrible cold. I wanted to still run the race but Christina who is my wise advisor said I would be crazy (and she was right). The number one thing I would tell someone who starts running is no matter what…DON’T STOP! The reason being it is hard to start running because the first few weeks, or for me, months were horrible. There was pain and definitely fatigue, I just hated it. Eventually I started to get stronger and run farther but just as I was making progress I ran into an obstacle and I stopped. I tried running a few times after but I let too much time elapse and before I knew it I was back to the pain and fatigue phase and stopped for good the rest of the year.

2014 Resolutions:

This one is probably going to surprise many of you because you probably didn’t know it is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do but I want to be able to juggle with 3 balls. I saw a book at a local bookstore the other day and told Christina I’d love for Tyler to be able to juggle because everyone needs a seemingly useless talent to just master for the sake of being able to do it. Admittedly I’ve tended to do things in life that I thought would benefit me but sometimes there are things I just want to be able to do “just because”. Tyler most likely won’t learn to juggle if I can’t juggle so I’m therefore making it a resolution for the year. I know it is a resolution that I am very likely to fail at because again it is difficult and will take patience, time, and practice.

The next resolution is to focus more time on stretching and becoming more flexible. This is going to sound lame but at 36 I’m just now starting to realize the aches and pains of ageing. I’ve never been flexible but I’m probably one of the least physically flexible people I know and I think that is very unhealthy because as I age I’m realizing how important it is.

Drink more water. Pretty self explanatory but yeah, drink more water.

My dentist has been telling me for years to floss but I’ve never taken her advice. I would like to floss at least 3-4 times a week in 2014.

Read a book a month and I’ll even share my list with you.

You might think “getting a new job” would be a 2014 resolution but I don’t think I’m going to add that one. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and have come to a number of new realizations as of late. This is one of the most unique times in my life and I’m not wasting a day. I want to be the best “Person” I can be in 2014 and beyond! Here’s to a great 2014.

Monterey 2013

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I got behind on my blogging. This is from about a month ago when Christina and I got out of town to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. The second day we spent the day in Carmel.

9 Principles of Innovation at Google by Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Social Chief Evangelist

I recently attended a Dreamforce session titled “The 9 Principles of Innovation at Google” and wanted to share my notes.

Innovation comes from everywhere.

There is no innovation department at Google. Kallayil shared an example where their algorithm was working with unintended consequences in that searches for “best ways to commit suicide” did in fact list what if felt the best results were.  A medical doctor at Google argued persuasively that although the algorithm may have decided to provide results, Google needed to intervene with human powered result by providing the 800 number to the suicide prevention hotline.  If you now Google anything suicide related you receive the 800 number for the suicide hotline as the top result. The day the change was made the volume of calls to the hotline went up by 9%.

Focus on the user and all else will follow.

Provided an example of implementing instant search which saves the user a few microseconds.  Executives knew receiving faster results would minimize the amount of time ads were displayed but they went ahead and implemented it because it made for a better user experience. Also mentioned that although each user is only saving a few microseconds, when you factor the billions of searches a year, it saves the world an immense amount of time at scale. Implementing instant search was also more costly to implement but again it was best for user experience and therefore implemented.

Think 10x (ten times) better.

This is Larry Page’s mantra. If you want radical revolution at a scale, think of things as 10x and not 10%. Provided the example of Google Books. When Google’s mission was created to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” it wasn’t to just organize digital information. At the time when Google Books was created as a goal, most of the world’s information was primarily still analog.

Bet on technical insights.

Google engineers developed a self driving car as an example. A few engineers read that a couple million accidents car accidents happen a year and felt compelled as engineers to see what they could do to reduce, or eliminate those deaths.  They thought if you remove the human it could reduce or eliminate the accidents.  They already had services like Google Earth and Maps at their disposal.

Ship/launch and iterate.

Some organizations only ship products when they are polished or fully ready.  At Google they believe they should develop a first prototype, get feedback, and then based on that feedback iterate to make it better.  Gmail is a perfect example as it was in beta for 3 years. Fast is better than slow. The first prototype of Google Glass was developed in 90 minutes

Give employees 20 percent time.

Give people freedom in their regular schedule, even when outside of the core job, and they will delight you with what they come up with quite often. They actually didn’t come up with the idea, they borrowed it with what some universities do. The way it works is you quickly build a prototype and you recruit others to help you with that idea inside of the company. Gmail, Google News, Google Alerts are all products that came out with the 20% rule.  A street view engineer was on vacation in Paris and was frustrated that the hotel he was staying at wasn’t visible because it was down a narrow alley so he created a trike with the camera mounted to it so he could capture the images.  You can now see parts of the Galapagos ocean in street view if you Google that as well.

Default to open.

Google admits they can’t hire all the “smart” people in the world. They believe if you open up your application to the world you can allow them to help you make their products even better.  Perfect example is Google Maps. They empower people to help them via Google Map Maker to update the maps because the world’s infrastructure is constantly changing each day.

Fail well.

There is no stigma attached to failure at Google. “There is a belief in the company that if you don’t fail often enough, you’re not trying hard enough.”  He says “failure is actually a badge of honor.” Since Larry Page has taken over he has shut down 72 products so they try many things and shut then shut that service down if it doesn’t end up working.

Have a mission that matters.

If you ask people at Google why they come into the work many will say that their work is helping to change humanity (the world). They are working to level the playing field for information retrieval.