Gratitude

 

Thankful for turkey

Our Turkey on Thanksgiving. Om nom nom nom.

 

Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday if you think about it. It brings together families from different parts of the country together who may not have even seen each other for a long time or all year– just for the sake of enjoying a meal together over the dinner table. The holiday isn’t about buying others gifts or getting cards. It isn’t about shooting off fireworks and making grand gestures. It’s simply about gratitude and giving thanks to those who are closest to you in your life.

In our fast-paced and digitally connected world, we run from activity to activity, from meeting to meeting, and forget sometimes to slow down and be present with those around us. We’ve forgotten in some respect how nice it can be to just have everyone around the same table passing each other food and enjoying a meal together.

This year I was so happy to spend Thanksgiving morning helping to cook the turkey and the side dishes. Food always tastes better when you’ve put your own energy into making it and feeling the gratitude from others as they enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This weekend also means a lot to me because almost exactly a year ago today I told my family I wanted to take the leap and focus on the company I co-founded with my friend Kunjan; so I put in my notice and started on the uncertain path of working for myself. Typically when you take leaps, the conventional wisdom is what you are doing is high risk. After a year, I firmly believe it would have been more risky to stay at my previous job than create my own path. My situation may be unique, but we all should attempt to venture every now and then into that area of uncertainty. It seems scary, maybe even paralyzing, but the fear of the unknown is almost always unjustified. The more you push that comfort zone, the more possibilities and opportunities that start to open up to you. I believe this to be true in business as well as life.

This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for all the passionate individuals who have touched my life this year and shared their positive energy with me. I’m thankful for all the great friends and family I have had the time to spend with. And I’m thankful for a change I’m seeing in the world that is allowing for more innovation and opportunities that probably didn’t even exist a decade ago. This decade is truly a time when you can reasonably pursue something you’re passionate about without having to make some of the more painful sacrifices of the past. All it takes is a thirst for knowledge, a drive to dream about doing things bigger than yourself, and the will to follow through on what you plan to actually do.

We all have our inner wisdom to share with each-other, with our community, with the world. Even knowing that others care about you and you care about them can mean the world. This is what the essence of Thanksgiving is all about. At the heart of it, we are all humans and Thanksgiving allows us to remember to share our kindness and compassion.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and continue to share your gratitude even after the holidays.



Aligning your work with your passion

A gaming App hopefully to be released soon!

Having some homemade chai as I tackle an iPhone App project tonight.

 

Last night at my cousin’s 21st birthday dinner (happy birthday cuz!), one of her friends Kingsley asked a very intriguing question: “What is your passion?”. It’s typically a very deep question, a question that had it been asked to me only a year and a half ago I would have been stopped cold in my mental tracks. I ended up not only knowing what to say, but surprisingly, I could not get my mind to stop racing through them. It did made me notice something though — I have many passions.

I’m passionate about the idea that software developers are no different than craftsmen, artists, and builders who can be empowered to build things that help shape our world. I’m passionate about the possibilities of collaboration over competition and the possibilities that exist to grow pies rather than take a piece so others can’t have any (zero-sum). I’m passionate about the possibilities of technology and the internet to allow for new working structures and ways of doing business that weren’t even possible 10 years ago. I’m passionate about always learning, sharing, and gaining new perspectives from people in vastly different professions and industries as my own. I’m passionate about local food and it’s ability to support local farmers as well as provide produce to consumers that are in season. I’m passionate about Yoga being not only a great workout, but training your body, mind and spirit to be more centered in a busy, fast-paced world. I’m passionate about cooking styles from around the world, craft beer, artisan wine, and the many different ways to make authentic chai. I’m passionate about video games and more the art of ‘playing’, the driving force behind people coming together to enjoy challenging themselves, competing against others, and winning something even if only in a virtual space.

There are also many things I’m passionate about on a day-to-day basis: cooking my own meals, brewing my own chai, trying out new restaurants/bars, riding my bike, untethering from constant consumption of news, meditating, practicing yoga, playing sports: tennis/basketball/frisbee golf/badminton, following my favorite teams: KC Chiefs/Sporting KC/KU Jayhawks, as well as obviously spending quality time with great friends and family. There are many things I love doing in this world and many things I would love to change. There are many things I want to teach, places I want to travel to, and new things I want to create. It almost seems exhausting just writing it all down. So is it possible in our limited time each day, each week, each month, each year to really do all we want to do? Should we focus all our efforts on a single passion of ours or can we be passionate about many things?

Then I realized something even more important: to even begin pursuing anything, you need to maximize the only non-renewable resource in your life — time. It’s the one constant for everyone. Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a baker at the corner pastry shop, each one of us is limited by 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days a year (or however else you choose to measure this constant flow of existence).

This led to another epiphany which was: having more time directly leads you to thinking more about, dreaming about, and taking actionable steps toward your passion. When I was sitting in a cubicle, where 40 hours of my week had been siphoned off from me, there was limited amount of time left in the day to devote to something I cared about. It’s much easier to plop on a couch to watch tv after a long day at work than to excitely come home, sit down in front of a laptop with a hot cup of chai, and make progress on a side-project. Your waking hours are also some of your most important and productive because you have your highest energy levels while the sun is out. Would you start a marathon in the middle of the night or early in the morning?

That’s why it’s more important than anything to make sure you are aligning your work with your passions. Whatever you’re doing for your studies, your job, your family, your life — they should be in line with what you’re most passionate about or at least on a path to being that way. Your passions don’t have to be in line with other people’s passions either; that’s why they are your passions. It could be simply making sure you’re able to provide your son or daughter with the best education, opportunities, and practical life experiences that are humanly possible to help them grow up in a better world.

Are you giving yourself the time to not only pursue your passions but also dream them up?



Home is where the heart is

couch I sleep on

Yes, I sleep here usually now.



It’s been awhile since I posted on here. So many things have transpired for me in the past couple months. Some for the better, others I’m not so sure about. One thing I do know though — these last few months after returning from Peru have had a huge impact on me. In fact, I see this year so far as having three major impacts on my life:

1) Being apart of an amazing Coworking Community that helped me grow as a person and really learn how to connect better with people on a personal and professional level with a simple idea: you are more inspired, passionate and productive when you work together rather than alone.

2) During the Summer I was bit by the travel bug and gained a thirst for adventure.

3) In the Fall, I returned home to KC under difficult circumstances where I re-connected to my roots, made critical business partnerships, and found focus and clarity through Yoga (I’ll be writing more in-depth about this in future posts).

I just keep thinking back to a day last Summer that I’ve never told anyone about. It boggles my mind that this day even took place with where I’m at mentally and physically at this very moment.

I reached a low point in the Summer of 2010, where I was not only depressed, but uncomfortable in my own skin. I was looking out in the world and seeing all these amazing things others were doing and seeing their successes as a reflection of how I’ve always failed at doing anything spectacular with my life. My life was so simple, so plain, so predictable, and so empty. Yet I had everything — I had a loving family back home, a great salary with a stable job, a nice apartment with a view over a beautiful park, and was living for the first time out of Kansas on the Front Range in Colorado. What more could I ask for? Why did nothing ever satisfy me? Why did I always feel second tier even to my friends?

I remember sitting under a tree in late May of 2010 at the park one evening with the biggest hole in my stomach. It was a painful feeling like a knot was tying me up from inside, pulling me in like an anchor I couldn’t stop from falling. I felt absolute uncertainty and loss of purpose. I crouched, hands around my feet, head down fighting the waves of tears that kept wanting to come pouring out of my eyes. I didn’t even know what I was sad about. So many people had it worse off than I did. I was actually privileged to be where I was, but here I sat, under a tree wondering why my life was passing me by. I did the only thing I knew at the time to do — just wait until the pain went away. I sat there for a few hours before I got up, wiped the emotions away and pretended nothing ever happend. Tomorrow was a new day, even if I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Reflecting back, I think experiences like this are more common than people are willing to admit. Our society is not so comfortable revealing the hardships and low points that make us who we are. We only like to see who we become, not the trials and tribulations that are encountered to get there. Entreprenuers and business owners face these moments of uncertainty constantly, some on a daily basis, but the difference is that they are treated as growth opportunities not validation of failure. And that’s the key. If you look at a moment like that as proof of not being able to accomplish anything, you probably won’t. Instead, you need to embrace such moments to gain clarity and vision on where to position yourself next. Where’s the next opportunity? How can I grow from this point forward?

It’s not an easy path working for yourself, that’s why everyone isn’t doing it. But it’s moments like this when you realize why you’re doing it.

Shortly after this, I received an e-mail that would change the course of the entire year ahead. My friend Kunjan and I had already started a business on the side of our jobs because we both were convinced about at least one thing — we wanted to do more than sit in a cubicle all day having our skills strip-mined and our futures decided by people who took our time in exchange for money. It was a big struggle to build up to the point where we were able to break out of the 9-5. Nothing comes easy in this world, but sometimes it can be a single catalyst that sets you off, and this e-mail was one. I’ll never forget my response to it which seems so hilarious to me now:



With that, we had our first client, and a long-term partner and friend in Raghu as he helped us throughout this year with business development while he went on to do bigger and better things on his own. I feel differently now about only doing work for clients and not focusing on your own projects, but this opportunity allowed us to really focus and take our business seriously. We had a goal, we had a vision, we had purpose, and we were working towards something. Personally, I gained more confidence, and continued to push myself out of my comfort zone which allowed me to meet the unbelievably passionate people through the Cohere Coworking Community I joined later that year.

After that, it was full speed ahead, we were getting referrals left and right, juggling many hats, trying to keep up with all the work that was now coming our way. The best part about our work was every single part of it was online, so we collaborated wherever we could find internet connections — Cohere, coffee shops, airports, friend’s/cousin’s places, or in our pajamas at home. This is actually the true benefit of working for yourself — the freedom you gain from it. Time is also worth currency even if it’s hard to quantify and completely worth monetary pay cuts due to the time you get back that could be used to put yourself in the path of greater opportunities you would otherwise have missed out on. It was this time and freedom that allowed me to take over 5 weeks of working vacations to Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Peru over the Summer.

It was really hard for me coming back to KC. I had enjoyed some of the best months of my life living in Northern Colorado; meeting, connecting, and working with some of the most inspiring people I know. Logistically, I didn’t have much of a choice. The rent in the apartment I had was being increased by $300 at the end of the lease and there was 17 days to move-out/find a new place while also trying to prepare for my 2 week trip to South America. I tried everything I could after I got back from Peru to stay — kept my things in a storage locker, lived on friend’s couches while I scoured craigslist for temporary living arrangements. All the while, realizing I was probably being selfish trying to remain in Colorado while our largest clients were in KC and Kunjan, getting married in January, had only a few months before he would be leaving to India; thus I only had a small window of opportunity to work closely with him before he left.

Home is where the heart is. Where our lifeforce keeps getting replenished. Our blood flows back through our heart before taking its trip through our many vessels delivering life throughout the rest of our body, our brain and our soul. It’s a cyclical process; one part cannot exist without the other. I decided to return home, to where my heart was, where my roots were, where my past was, and where most of my experiences in this life have been to understand where I needed to be and where I wanted to go. It just made sense at the time and I’m grateful I did. New business partnerships were made, current clients were able to meet more face to face, and exciting projects have been planned for 2012 that I can’t wait to announce. I also developed a deeper love of Yoga (more on that later).

That moment in the Summer of 2010 changed me. When I realized it was the way I valued myself and that I didn’t have to rely on external acceptance of others to be happy or fulfilled, the world began to open up to me. Seems like a simple, almost obvious fact — others don’t control your life, you do. But it’s hard to truly accept. Even if you’re dependent on others for money, shelter, food, at the end of the day, each breathe you take, each moment you experience is your own. You can choose to keep feeling sorry for yourself and being a victim or you can find excitement in everything you do, see opportunities and possibilities in everything you’re involved with, and impact the world in any way you wish.

As Ganhdi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.