Tag Archives: personal

Personal Flow and Plan Carving as Water – pt 3

As we flow down our metaphorical river of life to reach the metaphorical ocean that is our goal/plan, it is our combination of luck and sheer will that determines what the result is. It’s important that we adjust our plans frequently and with new information, re-directing our efforts from one part of our personal operations to another that deserves or requires the attention. Thinking big picture is a must, and re-iterating what works is a must.

But when the tough gets-going and the going gets-tough, know when to put your foot down and change direction. You could think of it as adding onto the plan by having fall-back options or adding a way to mitigate risk. You could think of it as Plan B. No, you’re not exactly changing the ocean (goal/plan); this is important since you knew from the start that there was no ocean: there was only your idea of what the ocean would be. It’s a moving target where everything is constantly moving.

But remember this: you steer the boat. If it’s not going well, change direction. It’s the only way out. The hard part is knowing when to change, and knowing how to change.

Knowing when to change:
The most obvious opportunity comes when facing resistance. After identifying resistance (usually symptoms include problems continuing without an obvious source of the problem) it’s important to shift gears and change the resistance to an opportunity. For example, you feel like your work (project, job, etc.) is constantly facing new problems–not evoloving problems, problems that occur through a continuance of the work/project)–such as an error here, or questions about something there, or a break in something. These problems continue to pile up and eventually you’re a firefighter, doing what you can to put out the fires that are enflaming. Rather than doing that, I suggest a shift in gear–act like water and evolve the work/job/project. Use that resistance as a force to push you away, and push you forward. It is that resistance that is your motivation to improve or shift. You can’t solve every problem and you certainly don’t want to continue doing that.

Knowing how to change:
This is perhaps the more difficult step. Knowing how to change, you’d need to re-evaluate your current status. On the path that is your river to the ocean, you need to take a high level view of your position and re-evaluate where the future goes. This new future (or the same future you had in mind) should look slightly different because you now have something extra: the experience of knowing. You’ve experienced what you’ve experienced (you’ve already traveled along the river), and you can’t take that away. But guide yourself to the new future, and be like water: move through the cracks and get to the objective. It’ll make you stronger and harder, you’ll move quicker. Re-evaluate.

Reflections Post MBA

It’s taken me 6 years to get to where I am now. That’s not 6 years of planning, no, it’s 6 years. 6 years since I graduated with an MBA from the Mannheim Business School. 6 years since graduating, that I finally hit the salary I expected before starting, and 6 years since graduating that I finally can make strides towards what I went in for.

It’s been over 4 years since returning to San Francisco, after leaving Germany and struggling to survive with extended family outside of Philadelphia. 4 years since setting a new plan for myself. 4 years of fighting to make a place for myself, and 4 years of breaking things (myself included) to be able to achieve a single goal. And 4 years of attempting to escape from paralyzing debt, to the point where I am finally starting to save a couple of dollars.

If you break down these goals, I really haven’t even achieved what I wanted yet. 6 years ago I wanted to be a consultant, 4 years ago an investment banker, and now I finally have the chance to break into these roles. It’s crazy to me that it took so long. I really haven’t had too many breaks along this journey and I don’t think I have so many more.

To get here, I really had to make meticulous plans and budgets. I had to evaluate and constantly re-evaluate my status and personal well-being. I started a second Master’s degree (in data science). I studied my ass off on a variety of subjects (CFA, CMA, various coding languages), spent a lot of money (Investment Banking classes, programming classes, paying off debt), and chased a variety of rabbit holes (side consulting, side projects, einzigly) with various success/failure in an attempt to create some luck for myself.

After reading my sister’s latest blog post: "Author’s Notes" (http://jasminemartin.space/explorationofself/authorsnotes), I see some aspects of my own journey that she is facing herself. I want to reach out to her but I remember where I was then and where I am now. It’s up to her to find her own journey and no matter what I say it’ll always be her decisions that move her forward.

It took 6 years to get the first chance. I’m thankful for all those who helped, and I cannot say I have much regret about the decisions I made. I broke some eggs, but I’ve always tried to make the best decisions with all of the information I had at the time. 6 years is a long time to get where I wanted to go, and I haven’t even gotten there yet. I still have debt (car loan, tuition, credit cards), but I am going to continue to try to make the best decisions I can with the information I have available to me; luck must be created. 4 years of pushing to earn, and I see the light. It’s another 4 years away.

Personal Flow and Plan Carving as Water – pt 2

We’ve established the reasoning and basic premise of ‘plan carving as water’, but how does it work? I think one of the best resources on this thinking is cartoonist Scott Adams (Dilbert – http://blog.dilbert.com/) who raves about the benefits of thinking in systems rather than goals(http://blog.dilbert.com/post/102964992706/goals-vs-systems), but I still have a tendency to think of goals. I like them, but appreciate their complete meaningless-ness.

For example, I have a near OCD-level habit of checking and updating my personal budget. I don’t strictly stick to it, but I’m constantly updating it and leveraging it to find ways to move finances, shift goals, better plan for myself, and think of things in different ways. Having this really benefits me since I’ve started as I’ve become more aware of my ridiculous spending habits and understand where my savings are actually used the most effectively; I’ve managed to crawl out of a debt that metaphorically crippled me into a literal depression, afforded a new (relatively) expensive apartment at a good price, started a savings plan, started a second master’s program and am paying it all with cash, bought a car and figured out the most effective way to pay for it and what I needed from it in return, and many, many, many more examples. A budget wasn’t necessary for me to do any of things, but I was comforted with its insights.

Yet I agree with Scott and recommend his book. Despite it’s simplicity it’s a fun read and you may learn something from it–if you don’t then you at least have an extra book to fill your shelf, one you’ve read and not let gather dust. The system works, the goals rarely ever do. The problem with goals is that they are simply targets, or ideal pictures of a landscape you hope to find; when the supports move and the targets change, the landscape is unreachable and your goal is unwinnable.

In terms of water: you’re in a stream flowing to the ocean with the goal being the image you have of ocean itself. When there’s a shift in the landscape, say a riverbed or an unexpected dam, that image of the ocean must change to remain realistic. The reason it must change is that the landscape itself has changed. A dam would give the entry way a much lower point of entry or a riverbed would case the entryway to be much faster in speed. It’s a slight shift in the picture but it’s still a shift. Planning is difficult and time only makes it more so. The longer the time between plan and fruition the harder it is to predict the result.

Plans must move like water and adjust and tweak itself to perfection. Broadly speaking: time is the flow of water and you only get to where you’re going by following where it moves. Unless it pushes you further away, in which case you need to put your foot down and go against the tide. Part 3 coming soon.

Farewell Margaret Martin, Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace
You will be loved,
Sorely missed,
And forever remembered

Rest in Peace
A wonderful woman,
Incredible mother,
Incredible grandmother,
And a true friend

Rest in Peace
Rest in Peace
Rest in Peace

My heart goes out to you, and I truly cannot say I have ever or will ever meet a better person in my life. A woman who never said a bad thing in her life. She more than anyone deserved and will be rightly remembered as everything anyone could hope to be.

Personal Flow and Plan Carving as Water – pt 1

Sometimes I feel stupid for writing on a blog. Sometimes I feel like what I write is interesting and (not very often) important–if not important to other people. It could be for one of the same reasons that I don’t post many pictures of myself (except the one on the landing page): embarrassment.

I’m not embarrassed about myself: I’m awesome, I know I’m awesome, people think I’m awesome, and that makes me even more awesome. No, I’m embarrassed by the fear of embarrassment. If I don’t put myself out there no one else will. At the same time, luck is created and earned; it’s not just for the lucky–you have to put yourself out there and take a risk in order to see the risk pay off. Risks don’t pay off if there is no risk.

The result after luck is a mystery. Because as we plan, it’s easy to set goals and say "I was this to happen by this time, but then luck (or unluck) comes in and says: "Well it turned out that something else happened before". Luck (or unluck) comes in and changes things for better or for worse! And while the results can sometimes be either: a) you achieved your goal/plan, or b) you didn’t achieve your goal/plan, more often it’s: a) things changed and your goal/plan needs to be adjusted to correct for this change, or b) things didn’t really change much but there is new information so you should re-evaluate your goal/plan.

And that’s just the thing, isn’t it? You have an objective (your goal/plan) and you know how you want to get there (with the information you have now), but then luck (or unluck) steps in and things change so you receive new information and need to change your goal/plan. Planning and forecasting is all about finding and adjusting for the risks ahead of time, and that’s why it’s important to take everything like water: adjusting to the new flow and stepping in when you’re against the tide. Part 2 will take this a next step, and I’ll try to include some images which support my thinking. Sounds like yet another "can’t-miss" blog post!

Email to My Brother and Sister on the Future

Sent this email to my brother and sister a few weeks ago about the future. We were discussing income inequality, what the future will bring, and other random thoughts. The conversation came up after I forwarded her this article from Time previewing a book I want to read called The Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil( http://time.com/4471451/cathy-oneil-math-destruction/):

"The way our system works is capitalism, where there are winners and losers. If we want to continue to evolve and continue to be ‘fair’, the system we live in will need to change in line with our technology. Guaranteed income is one idea of doing this (everyone earns $XX.XX a year, regardless of their ‘job’) but as our technology evolves, we need to think of our place (as a human society) in this world. We either develop the technology (software, hardware, space exploration and development), assist in the planning of the future (urban development, electronic banking, urban farming, driverless cars, power generation), or assist in the cleanup (waste disposal, water cleaning, resource management, elderly care, death disposal, species preservation and reduction, earth management). There are jobs to be had, just different ones from the ones we currently have. The poor will need to step up, or be left behind, and that’s the only option."

I still stand by this. I also wrote this having just finished reading the second book of the Red Rising trilogy (Golden Son, https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Son-Book-Rising-Trilogy/dp/0345539834)–about a space based future chock-full of class society prose–and was finishing up the second book of the Rememberance of Earth’s Past trilogy (Death’s End, https://www.amazon.com/Deaths-End-Remembrance-Earths-Past/dp/0765377101)–I won’t tell you what it’s about but it’s absolutely my favorite book, ever, period. So a lot of my thinking involved space (which is undoubtedly the long-term future) and technological advancements. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, beware. I see what you’re doing, and I’m coming for you. (As a friend, or a foe?)

Adventure in PNW – Day 9 and Day 10

To keep it brief: I drove from San Francisco (CA) to Vancouver (BC), and back. Along the way I stayed in Coos Bay (OR), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), Vancouver (BC), Victoria (BC), and Eugene (OR). This post is:

DAY NINE AND DAY TEN: Victoria, BC to Eugene, OR and Eugene, OR to San Francisco, CA

DAY NINE: Victoria, BC to Eugene, OR

What a doozy. For one of the first times in my life, I’ve witnessed true quality. I’ve explored the expansive nature of the Northwestern United States, seen the beauty of Southwestern Canada, tasted the quality of a delicious and expensive meal, and heard the sounds of cities and emptiness alike.

As I wrapped up my travels and began my journey homeward, I realized that I never once yearned for home. I didn’t have that feeling that I was missing out on something. I wasn’t fazed that I wasn’t fazed without my superficial and material goods/toys at home. I was relieved by it all and felt at ease. Being able to re-explore this adventure with you, my readers, I have felt the familiar rush and sense of wonderment once again. But the end of this trip isn’t quite without it’s sights to see and smells to breath, no.

As I woke up and walked to the ferry where I left my car for the night, I was greeted by a building that danced to its own lights:

And I strolled past the beautiful building I explored the day prior:

The Early Lights of the Capital Building as I left Victoria

The Early Lights of the Capital Building as I left Victoria

And then took the ferry back to the United States of America:

Early Morning Ferry Catches the Early Morning Sun

Early Morning Ferry Catches the Early Morning Sun

Other Side of the Ferry

Other Side of the Ferry

Back to the First Side Again

Back to the First Side Again

Doesn't Matter Which Side Anymore, It's All Gorgeous

Doesn’t Matter Which Side Anymore, It’s All Gorgeous

And finally took the short drive along the 101-South to the 5, going straight through Washington, a bunch of trees, Portland, OR, and finally Eugene, OR. Eugene was a fairly dead town, but the drive down was flush with trees, lakes, ocean, and wildlife.

Trees 'n Water Along the Drive Downward

Trees ‘n Water Along the Drive Downward

 

DAY TEN: Eugene, OR to San Francisco, CA

On the final leg of this trip, I decided to see some of the sights I’ve wanted to see but never had the urge to drive to: Crater Lake, Klamath Falls, and Mt Shasta. With one word I’ll describe everything I thought about each location:

Crater Lake: Magical

First View of the Lake -- Magic in Action

First View of the Lake — Magic in Action

The First View of Magic From Another Perspective

The First View of Magic From Another Perspective

Beautiful Lake, Really

Beautiful Lake, Really

Can't Stop Looking at This Darned Thing!

Can’t Stop Looking at This Darned Thing!

Second Stop Along the Lake, an Absolute Beauty!

Second Stop Along the Lake, an Absolute Beauty!

The Third View Along the Lake

The Third View Along the Lake

Second Look at the Third View

Second Look at the Third View

Third Look at the Third View, That's Three for Three!

Third Look at the Third View, That’s Three for Three!

Other Side of the Lake

Other Side of the Lake

The Other Side is Just as Grand

The Other Side is Just as Grand

After circling the magic that was Crater Lake, I drove down the highway taking the scenic route to Klamath Falls. I owe you a word:

Klamath Falls: Solemn

Driving to Klamath Falls

Driving to Klamath Falls

Other Side of the Drive

Other Side of the Drive

Rocky Point at Klamath Falls

Rocky Point at Klamath Falls

Overlooking Klamath Falls at Rocky Point

Overlooking Klamath Falls at Rocky Point

Overview of the Falls at Rocky Point

Overview of the Falls at Rocky Point

And finally, after taking the Volcanic Scenic route through Klamath Falls, I headed back south to get on the I-5 which headed right into Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta: Serene

Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta

Over 10 hours of driving that day before I ended up home. The joy of walking overtook me just before the exhaustion pushed me into bed as I slept in my own apartment after 10 incredible days of traveling through the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve learned a lot on this trip and the emotions looking back have been overwhelming. I know there will be more to come, and I hope to return soon.

Adventure in PNW – Day 8

To keep it brief: I drove from San Francisco (CA) to Vancouver (BC), and back. Along the way I stayed in Coos Bay (OR), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), Vancouver (BC), Victoria (BC), and Eugene (OR). This post is:

DAY EIGHT: Vancouver, BC to Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC was on the horizon. Leaving Vancouver was bittersweet; it’s not always easy leaving something you know you would come to love, but unfortunately time is like taxes: always getting in the way. We head out in the early morning to get a head start as our ferry took myself, my friend, and my trusted car across the narrow waterway.

 

The Crux of the Ferry Boat Railing

The Crux of the Ferry Boat Railing

Water is Abundant in the Ocean

Water is Abundant in the Ocean

Little Islands Flake the Ferry Lanes

Little Islands Flake the Ferry Lanes

People Pose for Pictures Posting Perpendicular P-Words

People Pose for Pictures Posting Perpendicular P-Words

The ferry, as you can plainly see, was a spectacle in itself. The long delay (took about an hour and a half waiting in the car before we could get on the darned thing) was complimented by the cold winds, but we were warmed by the sights of the expansive waterway and beautiful green islands. Beaches or cliffs lined them all and camping (you can really camp at any of these!) would have been an adventure. But my friend had an appointment with plane so after landing we scooted off onto the beautiful little island and I was left to take in the sights on my own.

Victoria, the beautiful flower of an island. I was lucky to get there during full bloom and you can surely see why:

Welcome to Victoria!

Welcome to Victoria!

The Capital Building was a Capital Sight

The Capital Building was a Capital Sight

The Capital Building Closer than Before but not Quite Close

The Capital Building Closer than Before but not Quite Close

I walked this little island on my feet of all things, strolling around and taking in the fresh air. It’s a beautiful place. Very small and quaint, but relaxing and refreshing. The pictures don’t do it justice but I snapped them all the same.

Mile 0 of the World Famous Victoria Mile Counting Sign

Mile 0 of the World Famous Victoria Mile Counting Sign

A Runner Runs Along the Oceanside

A Runner Runs Along the Oceanside

On the Other Side of the Runner was a Beach with Deadwood

On the Other Side of the Runner was a Beach with Deadwood

A Massive Catholic School Lined with Trees

A Massive Catholic School Lined with Trees

A Sign Signalling Beacon Hill Park

A Sign Signalling Beacon Hill Park

A Lake in the Park

A Lake in the Park

This Picture Makes Me Dizzy

This Picture Makes Me Dizzy

Ahhh, That's Better. Thanks Flowers

Ahhh, That’s Better. Thanks Flowers

You'll Never Guess What This Building Is (Answer on Next Picture's Caption)

You’ll Never Guess What This Building Is (Answer on Next Picture’s Caption)

It was a Church! And This One is Actually a Music Hall!

It was a Church! And This One is Actually a Music Hall!

A Better View of the Music Hall

A Better View of the Music Hall

Finally around the island I snapped a picture of the cross-streets only 2 blocks from my AirBnB. Such stupid names for streets.

What Stupid Names: Fisgard and Blanshard

What Stupid Names: Fisgard and Blanshard

The end of this trip is near. Only two more sleeps, and one more post. What a journey this has been.

Adventure in PNW – Day 6 and Day 7

To keep it brief: I drove from San Francisco (CA) to Vancouver (BC), and back. Along the way I stayed in Coos Bay (OR), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), Vancouver (BC), Victoria (BC), and Eugene (OR). This post is:

DAY SIX AND DAY SEVEN: Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC and Biking in Vancouver. BC

DAY SIX: Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC

After Seattle, WA we spent the next day in a very slow manner by taking our time to get up, have breakfast, and get going. We drove up straight to Vancouver, BC in no rush at all. It may not have been the most exciting drive in the world but we wound through trees and and I guess I can’t complain. The biggest highlight? Probably this:


Yeah, it was that kind of day. Just a slow one to contrast against the wild previous ones. As we ended up in Vancouver a bit later in the day we kept it fairly mellow and checked out the scenes for our next day. Glad we did so as we witnessed a beautiful sunset along the harbor before heading to dinner at a local pub downtown in what looked like a miniature version of Paris. It was pretty cool. I love this city.

(I have better pictures of this, but not very good with editing them to reduce their size. Help wanted!)

Sun Sets in the Vancouver Harbor

Sun Sets in the Vancouver Harbor

We then headed to our resting area to plan our next day.

DAY SEVEN: Biking in Vancouver. BC

Back up in the morning with a plan: BIKING ALONG THE VANCOUVER SEA WALL AND A BIRTHDAY DINNER. Apologies for yelling, but the enthusiasm I have for Day Seven is unrivaled.

We rented the bikes (fairly cheaply in our neighborhood) and set off along the infamous sea wall, which is literally that: a wall that runs along the sea. No more words, pictures and video will do:

Rocks, Icons, and Tall Buildings -- Vancouver Sea Wall

Rocks, Icons, and Tall Buildings — Vancouver Sea Wall

One of the Many Bridges Along the Wall

One of the Many Bridges Along the Wall

Lighthouse With a View (Seated)

Lighthouse With a View (Seated)

Lighthouse with a View (Standing)

Lighthouse with a View (Standing)

The View without the Lighthouse

The View without the Lighthouse

Sea Wall Cliffs

Sea Wall Cliffs

Panorama of the Third Beach

Panorama of the Third Beach

The Third Beach

The Third Beach

Under one of the Bridges

Under one of the Bridges

Why They Call the Sea Wall the Sea Wall

Why They Call the Sea Wall the Sea Wall

Bikes on the Beach

Bikes on the Beach

(Again, missing a few fa-nominal pictures due to their size)

After the incredible biking session, we went back to rest and returned for the birthday dinner. My words simply are not vivid enough describe how absolutely fantastic it was, and unfortunately I did not take any pictures. But take my word for it: the best meal I have ever eaten, ever.

Finally, here is a picture of desert:

Ice Cream

Ice Cream

Thank you Vancouver. I will return, hopefully for several years.

The next day I drive to Victoria, BC. But by drive I mean, my car and I sit on a boat. Don’t miss a thing.

Adventure in PNW – Day 5

To keep it brief: I drove from San Francisco (CA) to Vancouver (BC), and back. Along the way I stayed in Coos Bay (OR), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), Vancouver (BC), Victoria (BC), and Eugene (OR). This post is:

DAY FIVE: Seattle, WA (kinda)

Four days gone, what an adventure thus far. I’ve sat in a car for an entire day, explored two new cities, went to a music festival, and took a few snaps on my camera to prove it; it didn’t stop there. During the music festival we talked with some of the locals who unanimously agreed that nature is the best part of the area (confirming my first impression that there were way too many streets/highways), so we set out on Day 5 to see what exactly makes the nature so interesting. Luckily we had a beautiful sunny day as we hiked Bandera Mountain about an hour away of Seattle, WA.

A Mid-Way View of Bandera Mountain and the Highway That Winds Below

A Mid-Way View of Bandera Mountain and the Highway That Winds Below

Small Waterfall Along the Bandera Mountain Trail

Small Waterfall Along the Bandera Mountain Trail

View from the Trail with Mt Rainer in Sight

View from the Trail with Mt Rainer in Sight

This absolutely beautiful mountain was lush with flowers, some small waterfalls, and an incredible view. As we climbed the steep trail up the mountain, we progressively found it more difficult to find our footing. We laughed at the start, remembering how one local called this a more difficult hike, accusing him of never having been to San Francisco. We came to regret that. This was a hike for the ages, and the terrain got more and more interesting as we went on. The first two miles up were full of flowers and trees, simply beautiful before turning into a spectacular boulder climb.

The Dramatic Change in Terrain -- Front View

The Dramatic Change in Terrain — Front View

The Dramatic Change in Terrain -- Back View

The Dramatic Change in Terrain — Back View

Some Boulders to Climb

Some Boulders to Climb

We reached the summit and decided to take the Lake View trail rather than one of the more frequented trails in the fork and could not imagine what we were about to see. Expecting to hike to a view of a lake from afar, after the mile-or-so hike we realized that we were not walking to the birds-eye view we pictured in our heads — we stumbled right into it!

Walking Right into the Lake -- Was it Island Lakes?

Walking Right into the Lake — Was it Island Lakes?

Poorly Shot Panorama of the Lake

Poorly Shot Panorama of the Lake

Such an incredible reward for an incredible hike. It simply exceeded our expectations with aplomb. Fascinating and reflective. To think, this is such a small sliver of what’s outside of Seattle, just one lake out of many. We walked up a mountain from sea level and found a giant and beautiful lake at the top. The only thing that could equal this, to me, was the hike back being able to see it all again (and going downhill) while also seeing all of the small details we missed on the way up.

 

Moss Covers a Rock in a Sea of Green

Moss Covers a Rock in a Sea of Green

Trees and Rocks, A Green Dream

Trees and Rocks, A Green Dream

Exhausted, we journeyed back to the house to rest. This has simply been an eye-opening experience, this trip. The change in landscape between San Francisco has been nothing short of extraordinary and flush with nature.

Reflecting on this trip my thoughts were that we can take for granted our immediate surroundings, growing old in the boundaries we set for ourselves forgetting what nature really means. It’s not a picture on the screen, it’s not the videos on TV, and it’s not those trees planted in the sidewalk on the street. It’s life, continuously evolving and growing stronger; it’s life adapting to everything else around it; it’s life experiencing the act of existing for the sole purpose of living.

Rather than what most people think, we are not victims to our lives: we are the perpetrators of it. We control our destinies and our actions change the very things that surround us. If you’re not happy: adapt, evolve, learn, expand, and do–no one else will do it for you.

To wrap this day up we went to dinner with a friend and met the owner of this crafty vehicle. Really cool stuff, Seattle:

Homemade Craft Bike with Room for Three! Front View

Homemade Craft Bike with Room for Three! Front View

Homemade Craft Bike with Room for Three! Rear View

Homemade Craft Bike with Room for Three! Rear View

The next day couldn’t come any sooner, and Vancouver was on my mind. I wonder what the day will bring.