I've had a lot of conversations about blogging in the last 6 months, in particular with thought-leaders in the space like Jason Davis, Penelope Trunk, and other people who are much smarter than I regarding this topic.
Everyone told me that the key to blogging and getting read is to write often. I knew right away that wouldn't happen, particularly given the fact that I have 2 young children, a demanding job, a long commute, a personal life that involves a lot of reading and some motorcycling when I can swing it, but I convinced myself that I could at least do 2 posts a week. When I looked around, I saw a lot of bloggers writing much more than that, but many of the posts were not that substantial. Because of that, I swore I wouldn't ever write a "Jason's Top Ten" post or something trite along those lines. I'm not really that concerned with SEO or extending my reach in every way possible. Mostly I write just for for me.
So now it's been a week or two since my last post, so I'm breaking my own rule, but part of the reason is that I've been commuting from Seattle to Mountain View, CA every week for the last couple of weeks until I relocate permanently down to sunny California.
In no particular order, here is my list of 'top things' from the last 2 weeks, in no particular order. Lame, I know.
- Always rent a car using a Visa Credit Card. By doing so, you gives you car insurance up to the replacement value of the car. Thelma and Louise come to mind. This link gives you the skinny. I know this because recently I've been renting cars like there's no tomorrow and inadvertantly provided Hertz with some free customization to one of their Gold-colored Pontiac Grand Prix's (there is nothing Grand about this make and model of automobile incidentally). I swiftly and cleanly removed the driver's side mirror from the vehicle while trying to navigate the parking garage in building #43 at Google on Day #2.
- The food at Google is ridiculous. Because it's so good. Here's the deal with this benefit that unless you've worked here you might not understand: Yes, the food is gourmet. Yes, it's fantastic and there are 12 different cafes on campus serving everything under the sun (I'm enjoying the fresh sushi a lot, and they were also serving Kangaroo one day but I didn't go for that). But the really great benefit is it allows me eat healthy without having to be organized. Yes, I can eat like a King and turn myself into a much larger Jason, but I can also easily grab healthy snacks whenever I want and it makes it easy to eat right. This morning for breakfast I had fresh steel cut oats, an organic banana, some fresh grapes, and these really great healthy protein bars. At Starbucks, I was never organized enough to pack a fresh lunch, and as a result, always ended up eating at the cafe on the 3rd floor (usually at Taco Del Mar - ugh). Best of all, at Google it's free. People of course will draw their own conclusions that it is a 'secret' tactic to make us all work long hours and never leave work. I call it a brilliant value proposition for today's busy lifestyle, and one that lets one live in congruence with one's values (everyone values being healthy, right?). Very cool.
- Relocation is a very busy process, and not much fun at all. I would say it's right up there with college admissions preparation and mortgage loan processing. Those of you who know me understand that 'attention to detail' and 'planning and organizing' these sorts of things are not my strong suit. I am renting lots of cars, so Hertz loves me though. Or did love me, until I wrecked their Grand Prix.
- Spending a significant amount of time at one company really shapes you as a person. It is remarkable how my 5+ years at Starbucks has shaped my perspective on leadership, talent, business culture, and values. This is a very positive thing. I've been reflecting on this topic a lot recently. There's an interesting dichotomy though: while you are at a company, it really serves to define a lot of your approach to getting the work done. Once you leave however, you realize that most of the paradigms, guidelines, and rules were really self imposed. This is worth thinking about in regards to one's own personal and professional development.
- Bicycling is probably a good thing to start doing at my age. A good friend of mine is formerly in the bike business and is friends with the Cannondale rep, and was able to score me a smoking deal on the Ferrari (or Corvette since Cannondale is made in the USA) of road bicycles, the SystemSix. I used to ride road bicycles in my teens and early twenties, and have been pretty big into mountain biking for about the last 10-12 years, so it's cool to think about getting back into riding on the road. I'm really looking forward to getting on this new bike - the technology is amazing these days - think titanium and aluminum and carbon fiber and complex frame geometry and you'll get the idea. I cannot believe the craftmanship that went into this bicycle. It's a work of art, and weighs next to nothing. I have to admit I am a sucker for buying more gear than I need. I just love well-made stuff.
- Exercise is critical for success on the job. I really fell off the workout bandwagon the last 6 months, gained about 8 lbs, but recently have started back in the gym in the mornings. There are lots of things that can get in the way of regular exercise, but I believe exercise is a force-multiplier when it comes to professional achievement. Any time you spend exercising is repaid with interest when it comes to focus, quality of work, and getting stuff done. You cant' afford not to exercise. It's part of being successful in life.
- Simplicity forces value creation. This is a doosie, but I am becoming more and more convinced that the key to successful companies, recruiting organizations, and other people-filled dynamic entities is their approach to simplicity. As humans, we overcomplicate things which really erodes our chances of success in our efforts to truly create something of value. As a leader, I think one of the keys to being succesful is to break things down into simple components, and then evaluate those efforts by asking, "what economic value is this creating?" This separates the activity from productivity. When I'm not being lame I will probably write a post on this topic to further my thinking.
Google is a great company, and I really think I'm going to like it here in Northern California.