Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-13-2010
This is a story I’m sure you’ve read before. The old Mayonnaise Jar, Golf Balls and Two Beers. Maudlin? Yes. Glurge? You bet your life. Deep philosophy? Not so much. Not exactly the brightest students, either, I suppose. However, seeing as I’ve been going through a shit-ton of crap lately, with the loss of my oldest brother providing the exclamation point, I thought this worthwhile to post. There are versions that use coffee instead. The fact that it uses beer to tell a maxim makes it compulsory.
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two beers .
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was..
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents.. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf ball first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’
The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’
So, the first decade of the new century/millennium is finally coming to a close. And it’s none too soon for this author. There have been some positive moments, plenty of new lessons learned, old lessons reinforced, but in the end I think it’s safe to say this decade has ended on a much lower note than it began.
To recap some points I mentioned on Twitter using the #10yearsago hashtag: 10 years ago, I had sold my first technology business, was preparing for the successor company to go public, was wearing more of the venture investor cap investing in several promising start-ups, raising capital for a new start-up I co-founded, was traveling heavily and entering a period of semi-retirement with plenty of toys and money falling from trees. Now I’m just suffering a horrible hangover from the aftermath of all the “irrational exuberance” of the late 90′s. But what a decade it had been. The naughts were not so kind to me. I don’t hold anyone or anything at fault for this, though close-to-home terrorism mashed up with a renaissance of xenophobic, narrow-minded politics certainly didn’t vibe with me. Add some business failures (no fault of the businesses themselves but more of the common threads that seemed to string them all together; that is a subject for another blog post entirely or perhaps a book/memoir) to the mix and I’m glad to see it end. However, it’s always been my M.O. to persevere and never have any regrets. As my mother always tells me, “Sean, never, ever lose your edge.” I think my edge substantially dulled during the naughts. It’s time to get the sharpener out, folks.
There were lots of positives that happened during the decade that I would be remiss to omit. I kind of went into hiding during the last decade. Twitter, in many ways, brought me back into the mainstream. Even though he doesn’t know it yet, Ed Schipul is someone partially responsible for that. I thought Twitter was a ridiculous waste of time at first. Somewhere about February 2008, I decided to hop online (a couple of months after I launched this blog) and give it another go. One of the very first people I looked up from my prior technology days (Ed was one of my earlier customers of my technology company in the 90′s) was Ed. I read through his tweets and decided what the hell. So I created an account and followed him. He followed me back and tweeted something about our distant past, which garnered many followers. From there I searched for other colleagues and friends from the past and struck up many conversations. I had all but hung up my hat as a technology entrepreneur, but here I was reemerging into the Houston technology scene once again. It was therapeutic, to be sure. I have made tons and tons of friends in real life through the virtual connections forged through Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite and other social media platforms. I was pretty much the first person to dive into the social media bandwagon among my existing real life friends and served as the catalyst to get them all on board as well, strengthening ties with them in the process. As much as I would love to list all the new friends I’ve made, it would be too exhaustive a list as there are too many to mention. You know who you are. I adore each and every one of you and only hope to know each of you better as the teens unfold.
I will eventually write a series of blog posts/memoirs about my various misgivings and learning experiences of the last 10 years; they could fill a book books. For now, however, I want to simply bid the naughts adieu. I am very hopeful about the twenty-teens and what they will bring. I am reassembling the fragments of my life and forging ahead full steam ahead. I won’t bore you with my new decade resolutions here, but I have many I believe will result in a better human being. I can only hope I’ll enjoy a similar level of success and positive impact on others as I did 10 years ago. Actually, screw that sentiment. I am going to amp it up 100 times this time around.
Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-10-2008
Well I’m not 100% sure if it’s in the same tier as beer when it comes to the hierarchy of needs, but being on Alltop.com is pretty effing bad ass. And check this out – I’m listed twice on Alltop.com. Once under life.alltop.com and once under twitterati.alltop.com (apparently my irreverent drunk tweets are amusing to some)! What can I say? (In reality I stole Guy Kawasaki’s Glock from him and demanded the listing, but it’s the results that count, right??) Alltop.com is a virtual magazine rack, where you can choose from a huge variety of topics and get a quick scan of the content from each source by just hovering over your interest. So go check out Alltop.com now!
In any case, Guy quickly got up into a crane stance and deftly kicked the gun from my hands and pointed it back at me. He told me I better put up some Alltop.com badges!! While I cannot hold a candle to the badges created by the Bloggess, I was nevertheless inspired.
Ok, fellow peeps, tweeps, lurkers and whoever else out there on da Interwebz – April 3, 2008 is officially Good People Day!
I could not possibly compile a list of all the awesome people out there in my life and my new and quickly growing social media friends on Twitter and other networks, since it would crash Firefox from taking up terabytes of memory! Gary Vaynerchuk, the most awesome host of Wine Library TV, came up with the idea for Good People Day (see the video below calling us to action!). It’s all about spreading the love and positive karma. For me, this includes all my tweeps and fellow twitterati, all my fantastic social network friends, and many nameless people that hang out in the numerous IRC channels and lend help to those like me who often cry out for it when we can’t get something to work. Gary is truly a role model for this spirit of helping and generosity. He literally answers hundreds of emails and tweets a day to people he doesn’t even know who ask about wine. Just the other day I was asking him advice via a tweet about a certain 1997 Merryvale Profile and whether I should drink or cellar it. His direct message to me within minutes, “DRINK IT.” This is at 10:41pm his time on a Saturday night! How much love is that? And he doesn’t know me from Adam other than as a fellow twitterati (though you certainly don’t have to be a top twitterati to get a quick response from him!).
So I’m sending out much love and positive karma to all those who save my bacon and otherwise lend a helping hand, and to those who follow me on twitter, read my blog or have any interest in what I have to say. This goes to all my close friends, family and total strangers (whom I hope to meet someday at a tweetup or meet up or camp)! Try not to complain or be negative and extend the golden rule to the maximum to everyone you interact with, on line or off. I vote we make April 3 Good People Day every year!
This is my first blog post (of many, to be sure) about South by Southwest interactive, a large media and technology conference in Austin, Texas. This is the second SXSWi I have ever attended, the first having been 10 years prior, when I was a panelist on one of the first interactive panels ever, covering successful entrepreneurs under 30 and lessons learned. Boy has SXSWi grown!! I really had no idea as to the magnitude of the interactive portion of the conference; had I known, I would have been a veteran by now. Suffice it to say, I will not miss another.
I’m going to keep this initial post very short since I just got back to Houston and am tired as hell and need a few days to recoup and recall everything. For the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight some things I learned about SXSW, in no particular order of importance:
twitter is essential to knowing what is going on and where it’s happening
beer is served promptly starting at 3 pm in the bloghaus (critically important)
you know people more by their twitter handle than their real names
you don’t sleep; show up with a huge sleep surplus or bring some Provigil
the tone of the conference is irreverent and raw; people cuss during sessions and keynotes
bring comfortable shoes
bring extra phone batteries or have your charger with you (twitter drains it quickly through SMS if you’re tracking a lot of things)
don’t track “zuckerberg” through twitter and SMS during his keynote; your phone will experience epic fail
hallway conversations are as important (or more so) than sessions
network and get to know as many people as possible (I failed a little bit in this regard due to severe sleep deprivation and my usual shyness, or “closet extroversion” as Dan Light brilliantly put it – not next time!)
take business cards with you next time, dumb ass!
Guy Kawasaki is the most kick-ass, easy going, VC ever. Period.
Hugh MacLeod got a kick out of my last name (but added I didn’t look like a stoner . . .)
spend lots of time in the bloghaus blogging, playing guitar hero, eating, drinking and tweeting
you drink a lot (no really, a lot)
keep your laptop charged at all times!
Macs outnumber PC laptops 30 to 1 (at least)
twitter!! (again) – it is an important back channel, or the conversation of the collective consciousness
don’t let Sarah Lacy interview you if you’re doing a keynote and you’re a young billionaire
even if you don’t own a computer and can’t spell blog, this conference is still the deal of the century with all the great people, films, venues, music, booze and food you can enjoy
Geek and good-looking are not mutually exclusive (quite the contrary methinks, especially when you’re doubly turned on by someone with looks and brains)
the conference is completely casual and everyone is approachable no matter their status
I could go on and on. I have many post motifs drafted from the conference which I will flush out soon, once my sleep patterns have recovered and my long term memory is functional. In the meantime, I urge everyone to read Daniel Light’s most kick-ass post about the show. I think it nails it on the head. Until next time!
What better to do on Hump Day than to go into the office and be as unproductive as possible? How about playing some Wii Tennis, Wii Golf, Wii Racing, and then blog about it all? Is there anything better? I submit that there is not!
Filed Under (Life, Rants) by Sean on February-27-2008
Ok. Here’s another rant in my mini-series of driver education. The thing you use when you turn or change lanes is called a turn signal or indicator. Not a turn request-for-permission-please or any such thing. It is used to indicate to others your intent, not request permission. Signal that you’re changing lanes and change lanes already. If necessary, alter your speed to match the flow of traffic of the lane into which you’re changing. As a person who uses the turn signal as mentioned, I use it and follow with action immediately. As someone who is driving, I appreciate when others use it similarly. Don’t drive 1 mph slower than me, be 10 car lengths ahead and put on your turn signal and sit there waiting for me to roll out an invitation. Just come over! All traffic will move more smoothly if we adhere to these principles.
Next in my series? A rant on what merging traffic means and how it’s supposed to be done.
I can certainly identify with this Business Week story about Sprint’s business troubles, largely stemming from customer service woes. I was a customer of Sprint’s for 3 years, relatively happy with the service. The trouble came when I decided to switch service plans to reduce my minutes since I was taking time off work and no longer needed the huge pool of minutes I previously required. Using the Sprint website, I modified my plan. I had my online banking configured to pay Sprint automatically the same amount every month. After confirming the service plan change, I modified my online payments to reflect the new amount. I got a service disconnect notice about 3 months later (I never really paid much attention to the online bills and opted out of receiving paper bills) with a bill attached for nearly $300! Upon calling customer service (this is in 2004), I learned that my service plan in fact never was changed. Of course they had no record of the change I made and it was my dumb luck I didn’t write down the confirmation number the website had given me (nor saved the website – I always do this now). The customer representative said she would be happy to change my plan once I paid the amount due. Explaining my story resulted in nothing more than, “well I’m very sorry.” I had her escalate me to the manager on duty. Again I explained my story and said I would even prepay or renew my contract (I was month to month since my initial contract had expired) if they would simply give me the benefit of the doubt. I thought I had some leverage since I had been spending a decent chunk of change with them and even kept the phone active when I was living in Europe in 2001! Nada. Zip.
Needless to say I was quite exasperated by this point and simply wasn’t going to tolerate it any longer. I told her something to the effect that they could shove my account and balance where the sun didn’t shine and they would never get another penny from me, ever. After going through 3 other providers, including Cingular (another customer service nightmare), I landed with T-Mobile and have never looked back. The mobile phone service providers really need to use T-Mobile as a case study on how to run a customer service organization.
Well we had some definitively crappy weather here in Houston (METAR below) so no eclipse. Nada. Perhaps getting in a plane and flying around above the clouds would have yielded a better view. BUT, that would require I pull myself away from blogging, twittering or such other worldly endeavors. Maybe I’ll have all the CSS refactored by the next one in 2010. Hell maybe I’ll be twittering from the moon in 2010.
I must agree – t-mobile rocks. I’ve had literally ten (I mean, literally, ten. Really.) cell phone providers and have enjoyed my stay with t-mobile for the last 3 years. When I call, someone answers, chit chats if necessary while solving the problem (i.e., not reading from a script somewhere in India) and fixes it to my satisfaction. No 3 hour hold times (cingular), no arrogant jackass posturing (sprint), nor ineptitude of any kind. I plan on sticking with them for a while!