Expectations

If you think that by doing your own thing, pursuing your dreams, or following a worthy cause you will work LESS….  well then, at best you have the wrong expectations.  At worst, you may have the wrong motivations, in my opinion.

Certainly people switch jobs because their hours suck.  I admire people who chose their lives over their jobs.  But to leave a job to start your own thing BECAUSE you want to work less is not the best decision.  You will be disappointed.

The truth is, when you are building that’s all you can think about, that’s all you WANT to do.  If you are spending time doing anything else, you keep thinking of going back to IT. And when you are building, creating, pursuing, and working on IT (whatever that IT is), you never think that you should be doing something else.

With all that said, you do get a bit more flexibility.  You get to chose what to do, and when to do it.  That has a whole bunch of other implications, and some limitations. Especially once you have a board and investors.  But in general, you can go take a day ‘off” in the middle of the week and work on a Saturday instead.  Or start your day at 8am and be ‘done’ whenever, or start at 10am and be ‘done’ whenever.  

And as Malcolm Gladwell puts it “Autonomy, complexity, and connection between effort and reward- are, most people would agree, the three qualities that work has to have, if it is to be satisfying”.  

Creating your own thing for sure meets those three requirements.   So even if, your ‘hours’ are worse, and you have to totally change your spending habits, and take the subway when you’d rather take a cab…..  even then, it’s still totally worth it!

Not a Pivot, a Change in Lanes

The last three and a half months since leaving Goldman have been nothing short of thrilling, and I mean that in the entire sense of the word.  It has been both exciting and scary.  I have been in constant flux.

It has taken me all three and a half months, and almost a month of being completely separated from my world in New York to make sense of it all. 

When I left GS, the path ahead was both clear and foggy.  Clear in the sense that I knew what I was setting out to do— to build something that could have a positive impact.  That something looked like a travel site, and naturally this idea was fueled by my passion to see and experience the world.

The road was foggy in the sense that I wasn’t quite sure how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.  In the process, the advice came pouring in.  As an aside, I have been so humbled by the help and friendship people from the startup community have extended.

I listened to all the advice and explored all options.  Some of the options included joining a startup before venturing out on my own.  I explored that option fully, and in the process discovered some of the most amazing concepts and technology that will no doubt change and revolutionize entire industries. 

I attended numerous, numerous events and met genius people in masses.  I even landed a gig as a contributing writer for Tech Cocktail, one of the things I have enjoyed most. 

And in the end, it all ties back to GS.  When you are an entrepreneur, all by yourself, it’s lonely.  So you try and work with other people who are all trying to accomplish the same goal—build and through building and innovating, make the world better.  One of those people was a former GS colleague, Jay Finch (@jaylfinch). 

He shared his ideas and plan for executing with me.   All this was consistent with the goals he had shared with me years ago while still at GS.  He wanted to create wealth in local communities, and now he was actually working on making that happen.

We worked out of the same coffee shops, sharing resources and ideas, and sharing a similar frustration—finding a co-founder was a nightmare.  Mostly because it felt like marrying someone you just met five minutes ago.  And then he proposed—for us to be co-founders of Common Equity.  And I accepted!!!

So what happened to the travel site, the answer is that it’s on hold for the foreseeable future.  Creating wealth in local communities, helping small businesses get the funding they so desperately need (as over 74% of small business loans were declined last year) are just much more urgent matters to attend to. 

I will always love to travel and I will continue to do it as much as I possibly can.  I will continue to share my discoveries and experiences with all who will listen.  I will not stop trying to get people to see the magnificence that is God’s creation.  In fact, through my articles on Tech Cocktail, I hope to share all the innovation I find in the travel space.

I am so happy about joining Jay, and so excited about the impact I know we will make.  I am focused on launching our first product, socstock.  Stay tuned because we are making huge strides in launching our beta.   

This last three months have been thrilling, and I cannot wait for what’s next.  The word pivot is so frequently used in startup world.  But I did not pivot my idea, I changed lanes.  Still headed in the same direction. 


Desiderata of Happiness

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann

bijan sabet: A summer weekend in Vermont

You don’t have to go very far to have an amazing weekend, filled with nature, food and wine. 

bijan:

There are a lot of beautiful places to see in the Northeast.

One place that we never visit, except in the ski season, is Vermont.

I’m not sure why, it’s very close, but I think during the summer months we get to the beach mostly. And during the other seasons, life gets nuts with the kids…

Travels

Traveling alone was the best experience of my life. It allowed me to reflect on the past, on everything that it gave me and everything that it asked of me.  I tend to be pretty reflective, but this trip was more than reflective time. It allowed me to get clear about what’s next in my life. 

Life is full of commitments and it should be. Life should be about more than just our own desires. But sometimes, it is so important to get clear about what WE like when we are alone and no one is looking. Traveling alone is the fastest way to learn about yourself. So this trip was all about ME.  What I wanted to do, and see.  There were days when I just sat in cafes, and read and wrote and napped.  There were other days that made me physically exhausted…  

I could write pages about each of my stops, Rome, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence and Paris.  But I’d like to share some of the highlights here. 


After an hour of hiking uphill, I was exhausted and still had more to go.


Just sitting and writing and eating good food.

My first stop was Rome. Rome is fascinating, history is fascinating. I was in awe of the things, the structures that men were able to build in ancient times. The Colosseum can be seen from many places in the city, and the first time I set my eyes upon it, I was struck.  Walking around the winding streets of Rome is one big ‘uh, oh, wow’. No matter where I was walking or where I was looking, there was something amazing. Something that had been standing there even before Christ was on earth!! Rome was a great first stop, people were welcoming, and the city gave me all that I expected and more.  I even danced to some classic Sevilla folklore music at the Trevi Fountain, with a crowd and even got some Euros.  

But there was no place in Rome that took my breath away like the St. Peter’s Basilica (technically in the Vatican City).  I didn’t take any pictures in there, because I was just so captured in the moment. I did not want to be distracted trying to capture beauty that could not be captured in pictures.  

 
The Colosseum.  Truly breath-taking. 


Dancing at the Trevi Fountain. 

And while Rome was beautiful and amazing and I was in awe of the creation of men, my next stop was all about God’s creation.  And God’s creation, I cannot even begin to describe.  Cinque Terre, sits along the Italian Riviera in the Mediterranean.  It is made up of five towns which are connected by a series of hiking trails and trains.  If there is such a thing as falling in love with a place, this is what happened to me and Cinque Terre. 

God showered me with beautiful sunsets and gorgeous views.  In Cinque Terre, I hiked in the mountains, hiked through vineyards, swam in the ocean, and drank and ate delicious food and wine.  I truly felt like I was in God’s presence every second that I was walking through his creation.  This is where I was the most clear, the most at peace.   Cinque Terre is the place I miss the most and the place I most want to visit again.


One of my very first views.  I fell in love at first sight.


The water was the most clear water I have ever seen. 


These grapes made the most sweet, crisp, delicious wine ever!


Sunsets always let me know how much God loves me. 

After hiking and swimming for five days, I headed to Florence.  Florence was an interesting stop, and one that I did not get to enjoy as much as I wanted to.  It really bothers me how weak the body can be, my body can be.  How we must attend to it before we can attend to other things.  So after 5 days of hiking, and swimming, I am not sure why I thought it a good idea to go on a 33km bike ride through the very hilly Florence.  

Throughout the bike ride, I kept thinking about journeys and destinations.  Some people say that it is about the journey not the destination.  Others say that as long as your destination is worth it, you can go through anything to get there.  I think both are true, at different points.  There are some things that are not worth it, regardless of the destination.  But there is such a thing as the beauty of sacrifice for a larger cause. But when you are enjoying neither the journey (because you are sun burnt, dehydrated, and your back is literally killing you), nor the destination (even if you are sure you just lost 10lbs in three hours)— well then you are just annoyed and upset that you went on the bike ride.

But Florence was not to be outdone by Rome.  And the city found a way to capture my very tired self.  My favorite place in Florence were the Boboli gardens which sit at the back of the Pitti Palace.  It is crazy to think that at one point, these garden’s were someone’s backyard.  Florence is a city full of history and full or art.   It is also a reminder of people’s greed and desire for power, and desire to be remembered.  The Medici family, which ruled Florence for hundreds of years, made sure their name was remembered and no matter where you look in the streets of Florence, you can see their coat of arms.  


Though the bike ride sucked, we did get some pretty awesome views of the city.


The Boboli gardens, and the views of the city. 


Sunset view of the Ponte Vecchio

Florence also had one more surprise for me.  An awesome exhibit of Picasso, Miro and Dali, which inspired me to write this post.  And the best Gelato in the world, can only be found in Florence.  

The last stop of my trip was Paris, and it was a grand finale to my trip.  And there must be an encore soon.

Paris was everything, everything I’d imagined.  As my friend Maria (@MydaysandNights) puts it, even simple things like a piece of bread taste better in Paris.  Paris was a much more relaxing stop (I took a 3 hour nap at a park on my second day there), I did less but experienced more.  I only visited The Sacre Coeur, The Cathedral of Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and the Moulin Rouge— so many sights unseen on this trip.  But each of those places could take a day on its own.  

Paris is one of those places that just captures your attention.  Walking through the streets of Paris made me feel at home.  The metro made me feel like I was just riding in New York.  But when I got out of the metro, the sights were things to marvel at. 


Notre Dame de Paris


Sunset in Paris


The Louvre

and one last one…. The Eiffel Tower
 

And that was my trip.  All lovely, all beautiful, all peaceful. 

Check out the full photo albums here:

Rome 

Cinque Terre

Florence, Pisa

Paris

Entrepreneurs, the artist of our time.

I had the rare pleasure of seeing works of Miro, Picasso and Dali.  All in the same exhibition that told their story and how both Miro and Dali were influenced by Picasso. The exhibition is called “Angry Young Men: The Birth of Modernity”.  As an aside, I discovered that I much prefer the works of Miro.

These artist shaped and changed the way we looked at the world. They were angry and ready to brake down barriers. No longer are artist constraint by traditional shapes.  All three men took risk with their art.  They had transformative power.

I got to thinking, who are the artist of our time?  Who is changing the world and transforming it?  And it dawned on me… Entrepreneurs!  WE are the artist of the 21st century!  

We are changing the world!  We are transforming the way people look at things, the way they do things.  We are making a mark in history.  We can make things better.

We are sitting at cafes talking and acting on our dreams.  Influencing each other and being inspired by one another.