Author: jnaso (page 1 of 2)

It’s February – Time to Kick It Into High Gear

It’s February and I’ve been slacking. No, not the messaging app.

I need to write more content and throw it up on this website, but I’ve hit a wall. I have plenty to do – and I am doing it – but my writing has fallen flat. I’m stuck for good ideas. My mind is elsewhere, and understandably so.

I have an idea for a browser extension that I want to create. I know it is going to be a supremely frustrating task, but I’m at least laying the ground work for it now.

More posts to come… or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
– Joe

Defaulting to Action

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Yes, that’s a fight club quote. No, I am not a proponent of Project Mayhem, although the idea is tempting. Kidding… well, sort of. But as I’ve thrown myself into the community that is NYC tech, I’ve found that this quote is too appropriate. For some, it’s absolute insanity; how dare you say ‘I’ am not unique! For others, it too true to ignore.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make an impact, be it financially, socially, or otherwise – you just need to commit. Companies that are creating a market where one previously did not exist are so few and far between that sometimes we all forget there are thousands of companies out there who are not special snowflakes, yet they are beyond successful in the eyes of many.

The hard part is committing. Everyone wants to make the next Facebook, the next Uber, or find themselves as the posterboy for the latest meteroic rise to stardom for executing a concept. The hard part isn’t the ideation, but execution.

Which brings me to the people involved. Do you need a zealous obsession with your product? As a founder, pretty much. As an employee, sure, that’ll make it more worthwhile. But in the grand scheme of things, whether a mogul in your domain or a new guy on the scene, we’re not all that different. The things that does matter, however, is your ability to put your head down and making things happen. It’s an overlooked trait, defaulting to action. Over time, it makes all the difference.

– Joe

Hello Sober January

I was challenged to spend the month of January as sober as a bird. I swear this is not an intervention, but rather an annual challenged. It’s pretty simple – just don’t drink from New Year’s Day to the end of the month. Sober January 2016 – how hard could it be?

Well, apparently 90% of the people I talk to about it think I am crazy. I’ve had people offer to pray for me, then immediately change that to “I’ll drink for you, bro.” I appreciate the sentiment. Regardless of how tongue-in-cheek their responses might be, it got me thinking about how drinking relates to one’s social circle.

There happen to be 6 of us doing Sober January; 6 of us who normally go to bars and meet new people and drink. For the next 20-something days, however, I guess we’ll be going to bars and meeting new people with only a club soda in our hands. I can’t promise that a Shirley Temple won’t make an appearance sooner or later.

We all have goals for the months – some physical, some mental, some financial – but I think this month is more of a test of will than anything else. I know plenty of people who don’t have the fortitude to pass up on something when it’s right in front of them everyday. That’s why they offer to pray for me when I tell them I’m not drinking all month.

Even though you can’t walk half a block in NYC without seeing a bar (let alone 3), I know I’ll be fine. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing your friends hungover as hell on Saturday and Sunday mornings while you feel awesome.

Doing something to kick off 2016, or got some thoughts on Sober January? Hit me up @J_Naso on Twitter.

– Joe

Rereading ‘The Power of Now’

I swear it’s not a bunch of hooey. Are there some sections where you think “What is Eckhart Tolle even saying here? What is he on…”? Yes, there are. However, I can say from experience that reading ‘The Power of Now’ actually changed my perspective on my day-to-day. It’s temporary, but it has a real effect. I cannot recommend it more whole-heartedly.

I’m a pretty pragmatic dude. I call people out for their shenanigans (to the chagrin of many) and I see no immediate fault in that. I only hesitate to challenge people if I have no authority, or if we’re on the subway and I don’t want to cause a scene. But, I digress. There is a certain callousness, a jaded perspective that comes from living and working in New York City. It distorts our points of view and dissolves the a typical human interaction into something transactional. What does he want from me? What’s his play here? Unfortunately, those aren’t uncommon queries.

So why am I rereading The Power of Now? The short answer is because it works. The first time I read the book, I thought it was a bunch of feel good mumbo jumbo, a manual of misled information instructing the reader on the path to nirvana, a collection of well-conceived yet ineffective self-discovery one-liners. Thankfully, I was damn wrong. It’s not manual or a collection of clever quips. It’s a book about self-reflection and the lack of perspective of which so many of us are afflicted.

I’m back on the hunt for a new job, and there is not better time to realign my mental state than when constantly running into the walls that are HR and the general hiring process. Whether or not you think that the book is bullshit (which is your prerogative), I urge you to pick it up. Read the first 25, 50, 100 pages. The whole book is short enough to knock it out in a few days. If you don’t like it, put it down.

What’s the worst that can happen?

 

– Joe

 

Demo Day

On Thursday, December 17th, 2015 my friends from Startup Institute and I pitched ourselves to the NYC tech community at SI’s version of a Demo Day. We each had a minute, and I can say with confidence that I learned more about my ability to speak publicly and present myself in the preparation for that pitch than I did through the hundreds of presentations I gave in my entire academic career.

There is a certain vulnerability that is required for an effective personal pitch. It probably more accurate to stay that vulnerability and confidence go a long way. It’s striking that balance that is key to making an emotional connection with someone while maintaining authority.

I might post the video of myself on here when I get around to editing the video. No promises, though. In the mean time, it’s back to everyone’s favorite professional activity – searching for a new job.

 

– Joe

P.S. – expect me to be dumping more content on this site than I have for a past few weeks. I’m going to need somewhere to vent during this process.

Learning New Stuff Is Hard

I know that title blew your mind. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

The gap between what you know and what you know you don’t know is all that matters in my mind. It seems like a big gap at first, that cavernous expanse between where you are and where you want to be. Progress is slow and incremental. Roadblocks occur and confusion is inevitable. But eventually, after some effort, you realize you made it.

That tipping point hasn’t happened yet for me. And I’m damn curious to know what it’s like. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but it’s the journey from where you are to where you should be that’s the definitive factor in feeling fulfilled. I struggle with it… a lot. It’s tough to spend hours trying to figure out concepts you don’t understand. It’s a grind that, more often than not, feels fruitless.

And while I’m toiling away trying to figure things out from mile marker ‘0’ to God knows where, I just hope I’m not biting off more than I can chew. Then again, as Teddy Roosevelt said “ Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.” So, here’s to the grind.

– Joe

It’s a Matter of Perspective

What’s better – being a jack-of-all-trades or being an authority in a single domain? It’s a tough question. There is an obvious tradeoff between the two; it’s strongly correlated to where you are in your life and your career.

I have multiple interests, as pretty much all people do. But, that’s also where the mixed signals start. On one side, we’re inundated with messages telling us to be “well rounded” and to have a holistic view of things. On the other side, we’re met with the sentiment that to be a true authority in anything requires a zealous devotion to the topic. Where is the middle ground?

There are few people who live, breath and eat one discipline without dabbling in another. Aside from professional athletes or PHD candidates, most people embrace and develop various interests. So why doesn’t this apply to one’s professional identity, as well?

Does it stem from the associations tied to a given job title? I’m willing to bet it does, however unfortunate that might be. As you progress through your career path – however disjointed it might be – developing a deep understanding of more than one skill is inevitable. Hell, even Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory has been debunked.

As we age, it seems near inevitable to have so deep an understanding about something that we are labeled an “expert” in some capacity. And though I’m using that term in a very liberal sense, the concept holds true. We are exposed to so much information through our work and our hobbies that it’s VERY likely we are all considered an expert at some thing at some point by some one. Remember, it’s just a matter of perspective.

The real frustration comes from the realization that though I may be more knowledgeable in a given area than someone else, I’m still pretty lost. There will always be more to learn, more to research, more to develop. And maybe that’s the thing that draws me to tech – knowing that there is a lot of stuff out there that I still need to figure out.

 

– Joe

Chrome Plug-ins and Useful Tools

Ghostery

This plug-in will literally change the way to perceive the internet. Everyone knows that we’re getting tracked by TONS of things on the web, but I believe it safe to say we all grossly underestimate how widespread it really is. Use Ghostery to turn off those trackers, or just watch in awe as you realize there are 55 tracking tools following your activity on the last website you visited.

 

Rapportive + MixMax + Vibe

A trio of tools to stalk people in the internets and find useful information about them. Reading that back to myself, I really sound like a creep, but these are awesome for finding email addresses, contact info, and more for business contacts. No creepiness intended.

 

AdBlocker

I’m not explaining this one, because I hope you know what this does.

 

Boomerang

MixMax provides this functionality, as well, but Boomerang is legit. Schedule emails to come back at a designated time (hence, boomerang) or send them out 3 days from now at exactly 6:53am.

 

Momentum

I used to use Startup.me but quickly grew tired of it taking a LONG time to load my new tabs. Momentum is clean. Momentum is fresh. Momentum is simple. Tired of the boring page that shows when you open a new tab, or embarrassed of seeing that cat gif site you frequent show up in your top visited pages? Hit up Momentum.

 

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

Cool little Chrome plug-in that lets you check out the tech stack behind websites. #NerdAlert

 

 

– Joe

 

What’s In My Inbox

Ever hit the mythical “Inbox Zero”? It’s a great thing; unfortunately, in order to stay relevant, we also need to keep up with what’s going in the world. I’ve made the mistake of singing up for my fair share of garbage coupon subscriptions and the like – all of which get promptly unsubscribed once I receive 4+ emails a day – but there are also plenty of useful daily mailers out there, too. Check out a few that I’ve come to like a lot:

 

Morning Reader

“Breaking tech news, daily in your inbox”. Their tagline just about sums it up. Topics range from tech stock to funding announcements to Uber’s debacle in India and plenty more. There are tons of interesting and exciting stories that come through here.

 

Seeking Alpha

Wall Street’s morning reader. Short, factual blurbs that report on market trends across the world. It’s really useful to stay up on what’s happening in the financial markets, and it doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to read through.

 

Product Hunt

The (sort of) new kid – and cool kid – on the block in terms of finding new products in the tech space. There’s a really tight knit community associated with the curators of this newsletter, and you’ll often see the same people submitting products over and over again. Regardless, there are plenty of creative and useful applications and product that come through this site on a daily basis. They also send out a themed collection (think: Design Tools for Beginners) everyday, along with the current top 5 submissions.

 

Mattermark Daily

Mattermark is a data services company that keeps tabs on VC funding for companies in the US. They publish quarterly reports, comment on VC funding trends, and provide a list of relevant articles, blogs, and opinion pieces from VCs, founders, and more.

 

Startup Digest

I’m going to be honest here… I don’t always read this one. It’s a great idea and a great platform; unfortunately, there is A LOT of content. You can subscribe to a Digest associated with any given city (sometime state) with any sort of burgeoning tech scene. Emails include upcoming events, controversial and poignant articles, and some occasional commentary. It’s a read resource, but be wary of subscribing to more than you can handle.

 

There are a handful of others I get, as well, but I’m going to save those for another time. Let me know if you subscribe to any of these newsletters, and hit me up with your thoughts.

 

– Joe

The Deciding Factor In Leaving My Job

“You don’t need to know that.”

 

It was a completely innocent comment, but it changed my perception of the job and, more importantly, the culture. While it might seem petty or ill conceived for me to leave a full time job based on such an unremarkable statement, there is some method to my seemingly irrational choice.

 

I’ve worked for two vastly different companies since graduating Elon University (well, three if you count a ridiculously short stint as a glorified telemarketer, but I seldom speak of that). They were both “tech” companies in some capacity, but similarities end there. I’ve been lucky enough to get my feet wet in some very different businesses, and I’ve realized how curiosity is valued means a lot to me.

 

Do you ever stop and think whether you value curiosity or, better yet, reward it? It’s a weird question, I know, but it has a lot to do with the title of this post. And it has everything to do with why I left my last job.

 

I want to be a part of an organization that expects me to ask questions, not one that brushes me off when I want to know more. So that’s where I am now – searching for that place.

 

– Joe

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