The give a shit index

I’m imagining a ratio of how many people care about what they do every day to how many do not.

How would that ratio differ from city to city? From company to company? From country to country?

Maybe this metric exists under a different name. But I’ve never come across it.

While we might not have a number for it, you can feel it in action. You can tell one someone genuinely wants to deliver great service vs when someone is faking it to make the sale. They both have the same business outcome, but one leaves the participants a whole lot better.

Being around people who care is infectious. There’s a special energy that radiates out from every interaction. It’s an energy I think we’re missing right now. An energy we’re craving right now. An energy we need to bring to our work today, tomorrow and throughout the new year.

Changing your mind on Twitter

When was the last time you changed your mind when scrolling through twitter?

Social media is notorious for being an echo chamber. We follow people who think like us and believe the things we believe. Algorithms see us interact with that content, thus they feed us more of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Every once and a while I’ll follow a few people from a new niche and my timeline will be all mixed up. I’ll start seeing a lot of tweets about a unfamiliar topic. After reading personal anecdotes, researched articles and conversations between well-informed thinkers, my mind slowly changes.

I saw a great point about why twitter is better than Facebook today. The idea is that on Facebook you’re limited to being connected with people you’ve met, whereas on twitter you can follow the smartest people in the world despite never having met them. So if you don’t feel like your twitter timeline is pushing you to think differently, change it up. Follow some new people. Explore an unfamiliar niche. It’s in your hands.

Contrary to popular belief, you can change your mind on twitter.

Don’t add a new habit – replace an old one

As we think about the new habits we want to test drive in 2018, I propose a different use of language. Rather than “adding” habits to our current busy days, how about “replacing” bad habits with healthier ones?

Instead of the nightly check in on social media, why not replace it with a nightly check in on the yoga mat. Both take 5 minutes, but one will leave you feeling drained while the other will help you feel in tune with your body.

Why not replace the soda habit with green tea? Or the complaining habit with gratitude?

We all have enough on our plates. As we look to add the good, let’s make sure we’re expelling the bad at the same time. Replacing, not adding, habits is a better path to consistency in the new year.

Starting 2018 with a good book

There’s nothing like a good book and I’m lucky to have found one. A Gentleman in Moscow has been a profoundly captivating 150+ pages in. I can’t wait to open it back up as soon as I finish writing this.

If you don’t feel the same way about a book in your life, start a new one. Don’t finish it if it isn’t good. Buy it used. Get a library card. Loving books doesn’t have to be an expensive habit, but it is a crucial one.

You’re worthy of a great book. Go out there and start the new year right.

Reflections on 2017

Last year, in a similar post, I set the goal of doing better, not more in 2017. While I did a lot over the past 12 months, I found unprecedented clarity on a few topics that matter most to me. It feels like much of my energy is pointing in a direction that I’m excited about going. I can’t quite put it into words, but it has to do with education, entrepreneurship and empowering young people to take action on their ideas. 

Below are some of the many amazing things happened in 2017. At the end I take a step back and examine the bigger picture and set a new intention for 2018.

Director of Dual School

This fall I became the director of a soon-to-be non-profit called Dual School. Our goal is to augment existing local high schools by providing world class experiential learning opportunities to all students. In our first cohort we welcomed 15 students from 7 local high schools (public, private and charter). Students applied with ideas like creating a financial literacy program for low income youth, or 3d printing a drone, or improving homeroom classes to reduce prejudice in schools. Dual School’s job was to help these students make their ideas happen.

A Dual School group photo taken with a drone during our kickoff excursion

The role has been the perfect mix of passion and challenge. I get the opportunity to do what I love (crafting learning experiences) and the opportunity to learn by doing and collaborate with my incredibly smart colleagues.

The fall was just a pilot, and after a successful 10 week program, we’re looking to scale up in the spring! Look out for more updates in the Dual School newsletter.

The World Changer’s Handbook

In May I released my first book, The World Changer’s Handbook, on Amazon. I invested a lot of time and resources into the book during the first five months of 2017 and seeing the listing live was an amazing feeling.

The best part of writing the book has been the notes I’ve received from readers about how the book encouraged them to start blogging, perform an act of kindness or rethink what it means to lead an impactful life.

Along with these personal notes, the book has sparked some other opportunities. Horn Entrepreneurship at University of Delaware bulk ordered the book to give to all their incoming freshmen entrepreneurship majors and hosted a workshop about world-changing 101. Ursuline Academy, a local high school, also bulk ordered the book and invited me to speak to their entire school about creativity. Tim Collins interviewed me about the book on his podcast which you can listen to here.

Startup Island — Young Entrepreneurial Leaders Weekend

In June, I was invited to attend my first Startup Island trip. Startup Island is a company that organizes trips for entrepreneurial college students across the country. I traveled to upstate New York to spend two nights in a cabin on Lake Brant with a dozen other young people all working in entrepreneurship ecosystems across the east coast.

Me giving my workshop on the shores of Brant Lake

It was a powerful time to connect with a tribe I didn’t know existed. I made some great friends and gave one of my favorite workshops to date. The topic was about running engaging meetings and I gave it on a beach, looking out to the lake fresh off a great game of volleyball. I’m still in touch with many of the people from the trip and look forward to working more with Startup Island in the future!

University Innovation Fellows Student Leader

In November, I returned to Silicon Valley with University Innovation Fellows after being selected as one of 23 student leaders for an international meetup of 300+ students innovating in higher education. It was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in creativity and design thinking. I spent just shy of a week at Stanford’s d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design)

I gave a talk at Google about rapid prototyping your life purpose.

Me giving a talk at Google to 300+ college students

I co-led a workshop about the growth mindset while being coached by professors at the d.school. I co-facilitated a five hour design sprint about how we might integrate more music into K-12 education.

The trip pushed me to imagine how we might apply best practices of innovation work in Delaware. I came back from the journey exhausted, but energized to get back to work and infuse playful creativity back into my life.

The trip also reinvigorated my belief in the power of teams. I served as a student leader along with 22 others. I’ve never worked with a more supportive, passionate and inspiring group of people. Together we ran a 4-day event for 300+ students. A bunch of humans working as a unit accomplished a super-human task and that feeling still touches me to this day.

The leadership team of the fall 2017 UIF Silicon Valley meetup

20k Passions Round Two

Last year I thought I was saying goodbye to 20k Passions, but as the spring approached and no one wanted to take over, I stepped up again to try leading from a different posture. My first step was to organize a team of people interested in helping out. We sat down together to brainstorm how we wanted the event the look and met for an hour each week to plan.

It felt different this year. It felt like if I didn’t show up, the event still would have worked. I still participated and enjoyed my role, but the team I brought together carried a lot of the weight. They are what made this year’s event many times more successful than our first year.

Hype volunteers engaging students

Travel

San Antonio and Austin

Continuing our tradition of seeing a new place each year, my girlfriend Sophia and I went to San Antonio and Austin in January. It was a pleasant break from the winter cold and a fun couple cities to explore. We found plenty of delicious food, saw some great sights and had a lot of fun.

In San Antonio, we loved starting the River Walk at the Pearl District, and would recommend that area to anyone visiting. In Austin, we enjoyed Gourdoughs donuts and exploring South Congress street.

Montreal

For spring break, Sophia and I went to Montreal with a couple friends. The United States is an enormous country and we think about places like Vermont and Maine as the upward boundaries of civilization, but in reality there are big cities north of our borders. Though it was still cold in March, Montreal was a cool place to explore.

Most of the trip highlights were the amazing food. Our favorites were the Montreal style bagels, poutine, donuts and beer.

Local travel

I’ve also been exploring the importance of local travel. Many people talk about how powerful it is to travel and I echo that sentiment. It can change your life. But I challenge the notion that travel means taking a long, expensive flight to a foreign country. You could drive ten minutes and end up in a place that feels unfamiliar.

Since graduating and officially living in Delaware, Sophia and I have been exploring locally to find new places. Travel isn’t about how far you go; it’s about seeing things differently.

Reflections

Last year, in a similar post, I wrote that 2016 had been my happiest and healthiest year on record. I wish I could say the same about 2017, and I probably could about the first half, but the transition after college is difficult. Working full days, commuting and getting acclimated to life in “the real world” leaves little time for other essential activities.

I love the work I do, but during the fall I struggled with making time to exercise, eat well and meet new people. In college, I had a great balance of these things, but now there are new barriers for me to overcome. In 2016 I set an intention to do better, not more in the new year. I feel that I’ve lived that intention and now it’s time for a new one: stay more active.

I want to do get outside more, do more yoga, hike more, bike more, run more, play more sports. The other stuff will come. The emails will get sent. The blog posts will get written. Those habits are ingrained and now it’s time to add more healthy tendencies back into my life.

This year has been a monumental one, and I’m excited to leap into 2018!

Last year

What did you do?

Where did you go?

Who did you meet?

What made you laugh?

What made you cry?

What did you learn?

How did you feel?

How will you grow?

The practice of reflection

Last year I wrote a long post reflecting on my 2016. This year, I’m working on another post in similar fashion.

Every time I sit down to think about all the amazing things that happened I’m amazed that more pop into my head. It’s insane how much is packed into a year and that’s why it’s essential to sit down and capture it.

It’s a time to appreciate hard work, take inventory of the past and look forward to the future. If you don’t take this time, life will go on as always and your year will fade into all the rest.

So sit down for a few minutes and jot down some of the amazing things that happened in your 2017.

Human elation

Like many children, my feet would grow one size each year.

Eventually the day would come for us to go to the mall and pick out a new pair of shoes. That’s where the fun began.

I would immediately put on the shoes and sprint through the mall. I felt faster. I felt on top of the world.

It was the raw excitement that you felt as a child, but disappears as you age. I’m curious why that happens. Do we become more socially aware? Do we become more muted emotionally? Are things just not as exciting the longer you’ve lived?

There’s something magical about seeing a child so excited. But for some reason that human elation is harder to activate the older we get. What would it take to rediscover it?

We’re all swimming

We’re all swimming in a world of ocean.

There will be waves. No matter how fast you go, you’ll never escape them. There may be temporary reprieves, but shortly after, you’ll be back in rougher waters.

In a world of inescapable waves, the only way to win is to learn to enjoy them. To embrace the process.

No matter how fast you go, you won’t get there. The more you flail, the worse you’ll feel.

Enjoy the calm. Embrace the rough. It’s all part of the journey.

Snow’s magic

Snow paints a new landscape. It forces you to put on a new lens and see the world differently.

Hills become opportunities. Trees become art. Cars become a hassle.

All you want to do is set out and explore the blank canvas. Then cozy up by the fire to dream about doing it again the next day.