As usual, I'm writing this on a plane, on the backend of a great trip back to New Hampshire to visit my parents.
What's a bit more unusual, is the fact that I'm also writing this while wearing a face mask. Sadly - I couldn't even get past the second sentence of this without bringing up COVID... maybe next year?
I started this year by jamming in as much travel as I possibly could before COVID hit. On the day after Christmas, I flew to Rome, to visit my friend Hunter (living in Japan at the time) and to meet up with Miki (foreign exchange student from high school). We had minimal plans other than to drink some negronis, go on adventures, and eat lots of Italian food. We absolutely failed to see any of the sights that you're supposed to see when you're in Italy: art museums, the Vatican, the Colosseum, etc. If you've heard of it, chances are we missed it. But we did go skiing, learned some Italian, stayed with Miki's family, and most importantly made a lot of great memories. And yeah - we also drank a lot of espresso and negroni.
From there, I spent 19 hours on a plane back to SF and got back to work.... for a little bit. The very next weekend I headed up to my ski lease in Tahoe to take my 1st ever avalanche course (AIARE 1). Avalanche danger was super high, which is the best time to learn. The only hiccup came when I had to ask a stranger for a ride back to SF to avoid getting stranded in Truckee.... but it all worked out in the end.
After another week of work - I hopped back on a plane. This time to Japan with Nathan. This is seriously one of my favorite trips of all time. Highlights include Studio Ghibli museum, clubbing & karaoke in Tokyo, 1st day of spring festival in Kyoto (in February ??), skiing blower pow in Niseko, ice festival in Sapporo, missing multiple flights for idiotic reasons, and lots of sushi.
When I got back to SF this time, I was ready to stay for a while. I settled back into a routine: work, physical therapy, and snowboarding pretty much every weekend. I am stoked with how much backcountry skiing I fit into 2020. Great days at Rubicon, Silver, Johnson Canyon, Sunrise Bowl, and Pyramid (sadly no Shasta this year ☹️)
It was probably on one of those long backcountry tours where I got to thinking about where I wanted to go next in my career. Over the past 6 months or so, I'd begun to enjoy my job less than when I'd first joined out of school. And I was actually up at my ski lease when I first reached out to my friends Jordan and Edwin that set off this crazy series of events that eventually led to me joining Assembled a couple of months later.
In between quitting my job at Thumbtack and joining Assembled in June, I took my first vacation since Japan. I convinced Lau and Nathan to drive up to Coos Bay (lol I have no idea how we settled on this place) and spend a few days in coastal Oregon. It was a good reminder of how much creative energy working 40+ hours a week can take from you. I wrote some code purely for fun for the 1st time in a while and even became a redwoodJS contributor in the process. We ate scallops, sauna'd everyday and ran in the same spot as Prefontaine.
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine
When we returned, I started my new job..... with the worst case of poison oak I hope I'll ever experience 😆. Nathan and I both got horrible poison oak from bushwacking to find his crashed drone. It's funny how at the time it felt like I had hives somewhere for close to a full month, but while writing this I almost forgot it happened.
I'm a firm believer that how you perform in your first 3-6 months at a job is how people will think of you for the rest of your time at the company. I'd experienced this first hand at Thumbtack. So to account for this, I basically did nothing but work super hard and go to physical therapy for my first few months at Assembled. I did manage to sprinkle in a bit of fun throughout though: Carmel with Maggie (😍), Backpacking in Lassen, and lots of biking with Kush and Kaytlin.
And by the end of the summer, it felt like my hard work at Assembled was paying off. We were shipping a lot of code, and closing customers faster than ever. When I joined Assembled, I was pretty nervous about whether my body would hold up to the pace and stress that comes with a startup. After a few months of intense work, I felt like I could take a breath and not only know that I was capable of succeeding at a startup, also having fun in the process.
Naturally, it was time for the next challenge. I'd talked somewhat flippantly with Jeremy earlier in the summer about moving to Tahoe full-time, but in August we got serious about it. We set to work with our 3rd roommate (Conor) contacting EVERY reasonable house on Zillow, Craigslist, Trulia, etc to see if we could talk them into renting to three 20-something SF kids. We ended up overpaying by a decent margin.... but it worked. We moved up to Tahoe-Donner at the end of September and made our dream happen.
When you make a move like this, there are a lot of logistics to consider. The most pressing of those being "how do I get around?". Luckily, our roommate Conor was gracious enough to let Jeremy and I use his car to go used car shopping for a day. We both had no idea what we were doing, asked a lot of stupid questions, had moderate negotiation success, and ended up with a 2004 Honda AWD CRV with 130k miles. The jury is still out, but so far it's made trips to SF, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, L.A, Park City, and Colorado with no issues.
That pretty much takes us up to today. The winter is just getting started, and I'm pretty freakin' excited to be living in such an epic playground, with great people to share it with. Our lives are pretty simple: we all work a lot during the week (with a few weekday pre-work tours sprinkled in) and go skiing every weekend. In many ways, it's pretty close to my ideal life. So it might sound a bit crazy when I say I plan to move back to SF sometime in 2021 (obviously somewhat COVID dependent). The reason? There are a lot of small reasons - but the biggest one is just that I want to go all-in on Assembled. I think we're at a special point in time - and the next few years will be defining not just for the company, but also for my career. If I'm putting a ton of time and energy into my work, I'd much rather spend it working alongside the people that make Assembled great rather than through a zoom window (no hate on remote work at all, just my personal experience).
Going into 2021, I want to set a few intentions.
The first (and probably the most difficult) is to be a company leader at Assembled. To be clear, this has nothing to do with a title, and everything to do with just kicking a**. For Assembled to succeed, I think it is pretty much essential that all of the early employees act as leaders, and in many ways business owners. To me, being a leader means setting an example of what it looks like to execute effectively, but also coming up with creative ideas that move the company forward and shape the future of the product. Doing whatever it takes to help grow the business.
The other main intention I have is to seize the moment and do as much backcountry skiing as a can while I'm living in Tahoe. This breaks down into 2 goals: 100k human-powered vertical feet, and the following tick list:
- Mt Relay
- Maggie's Peak
- Hidden Peak
- Jake's Peak
- Dick's Peak
- Mt. Tallac
- Mt. Lassen
- Bloody Mountain
- Castle Peak
- Donner Peak
- Sugar Bowl to Squaw Traverse
That's it! Excited to see all the serendipitous things that happen this year.
Thank you all so much for a truly great year amongst a world of craziness.
A few more miscellaneous memorable times that didn't quite work their way into this: dinner at the french laundry, Hunter visiting Tahoe for a month, riding a horse in woodside, accidentally running a development query on our production database right before a first date, meeting my current girlfriend on 4th of July, ~5 feet of snow with all ski resorts closed in Tahoe, paradise loop, being given a dope telemark ski setup from a stranger I met on Facebook, 1st ski of the year in November, steak & rib nights with the boys, chopping wood in the backyard, arguing about stocks with highschool friends in a hot tub.