Careers and relationships are curiously similar, I think, and as a pair are quite unique in how we approach them. We dive headfirst into these commitments with only partial information – information which, more often than not, turns out to be inaccurate.
I don’t mean to imply that job openings and potential romantic partners are intentionally misrepresented (though, I’ll admit, they sometimes are). I mean to say that they are simply two aspects of life that must be understood experientially – initial descriptions and appearances suffice only to lure you in, and you’ll only truly understand them by experiencing them over the course of time. Continue reading →
The brain is a wondrous instrument – it builds detailed mental models of how our world functions, storing a dizzying array of information based on historical observations that we’ve made. The purpose of these models, or schemas, is to provide us with a framework for decision making prior to committing to a given course of action.
It allows us to play out a scenario within the comfort of our own minds – it’s a sort of forecasting system, a Dopplar radar for social functions, that is designed to add a degree of predictability to our world. When you’re invited to a party, you quickly analyze the person who invited you, the other known guests, the venue, and any other information to make a quick run-through of the night.
Will it be fun? Will it be my scene? What time will I get home?
Your mind runs a explores simulations and then you make a judgement call whether or not to attend – and, if you do, what you should expect. The problem is, it often ends up being very wrong.
The power was out in my apartment. In the middle of June. Awesome.
I walked out the door and down the hall, finally coming across a neighbor on the floor below me.
“Hey man, is your power out too?” I asked.
The neighbor shook his head no and that’s when my mind began to put the pieces together. The piled up mail on the counter. The voicemails on my phone that I hadn’t checked in days. I walked back into the apartment, took a deep breath, and fanned out the mail like a deck of cards. I saw it immediately and my heart plummeted.
Despite a decent night’s sleep and an IV bag of iced coffee, I found myself feeling awful today as I sat down to try to get some work done. My mind was foggy and I simply had no energy to get myself going.
For the past day or so, I’d been craving particularly bad food and at the moment, a cheesesteak, sour cream and onion chips, and a gallon of Arizona iced tea was sounding pretty good. Against my better judgement, I left the office in search of some food.
As I stomped through the streets of downtown Chicago in search of satiation (I know…I’m supposed to be in Buenos Aires, but more on that later), some road construction forced me to take a detour past the river. I walked out from the shadow of the buildings and the sun hit me – and the feeling was almost indescribable. As my body began to drink up the rays, it hit me that I had barely seen the sunlight in nearly three weeks. Continue reading →
If you follow any sort of tech news, I’m sure you’ve heard about Pebble – the runaway Kickstarter success story that has sold over $7 million worth of watches virtually overnight.
The project was launched by a 25 year old guy and a couple friends. As with many success stories, they turned to Kickstarter as a last resort after being turned down by a number of (regretful) venture capitalists.
I was reading a New York Times article today and it quoted one of their critics, Robert Fabricant – the VP of some big-time development firm – “casting doubt” on their success:
“Mr. Fabricant, like others in his field, cast some doubt on the notion that it was possible to sidestep the traditional routes to building a business, particularly through a service like Kickstarter. They say young, inexperienced business people need advisers, mentors and a network of support to help them deal with the problems that can emerge.”
For me, New Years Eve was never so much about resolutions as it was about drinking champagne. Sure, on December 31st I can’t help but think back nostalgically on the year that has passed, but I have always felt that the holiday was too public a time to really reflect. Besides, champagne has a way of…uh, narrowing your focus down to the moment at hand, rather than looking at the big picture. Continue reading →
We’re all faced with complex challenges – even exciting new opportunities often come wrapped in a frustratingly delicate package. When you know what is important to you on a basic level, you can quickly distill complicated problems down to a digestible and navigable decision. Simple solutions are often the most elegant and there are a few philosophies that have guided me through some particularly difficult situations – and ultimately led me to follow my dreams to Argentina.
Here are the eight guidelines that keep my life exciting, meaningful, and most importantly, unusual.
Zack’s 8 Simple Philosophies for a Happy, Healthy Life
I’ve never really been one to follow the masses or participate in the rigid march of conformity. I sold candy on the black market in 5th grade, started an auto parts company when I was 16, skipped my senior year of high school, and was on a one-way flight to Vegas during my college graduation.
Looking out from my balcony in Buenos Aires
At age 23, I was making plenty of money and was only working a few hours a day. It was every guy’s dream – living in Sin City, improving my Call of Duty skills with previously undiscovered dedication, and embracing a general lack of responsibility that I hadn’t experienced since…well, college. So, after a year in Vegas, I took the next logical step – I moved back to New Jersey (where I grew up), started working for the family business, and signed a 15 month lease with a new girlfriend that I met on Match.com.