The Minimal Life

A photo of my room in Bernal Heights SF.

I mentioned that I live a pretty minimal life… but I wanted to take a moment to actually show you what it looks like. Pretty much everything I own is in this room, right here. If you live in San Francisco, you know that this is the norm.

I’ve been doing this for about 3 years now, in exchange to build new products from the ground up and learn from the people around me. It’s kind of like college again–I live with roommates, I have a tiny little personal fridge, and I get around on my bike. There are some days I can’t believe I’m nearing 40 years old.

I definitely want to get a house at some point, but I need to make sure that my overall plan aligns with Annie… so I’ve put that on hold for a minute. I’m going to continue saving up for it, and when the time is right, it’s going to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to that day.

I miss having my own couch, TV, and extra room. But then again, I don’t miss having tons of stuff to worry about. For example, I miss driving around my Porsche 911… but it’s nice not having to worry about payments, insurance, personal property tax, expensive maintenance, etc. I also don’t have to worry about my other people dinging my car–yes, these were silly things that kept me up at night. Also, I don’t lose things anymore and I’m way more organized. Having less stuff and less space just forces me to keep everything folded and stowed away.

But it’s probably time to make a little compromise. I think I want to get a car again… I think that I want to explore a little more beyond the city limits. Yes, it would be fun to have a nice toy for the weekends, but I think I need something a little more practical. I’m considering a SUV or something I can camp out of. I’d like to take more trips to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Sonoma, and all the national parks with redwood forests. I’d like dust off my fly fishing rod and give it a shot over here. And, I’d love to just drive down highway 1 just to enjoy the view and snag a couple of astrophotography shots.

I’ve got a couple of cars in mind, but I’d like to get some recommendations. Anyway, more on this soon.

Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu again

It’s been well over a decade since I’ve trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I’ve always wanted to start back up again–when I trained, it was a big part of my life… not just the martial art, but the way of life and the people around me. I actually still keep in touch with some folks that I used to train with. As much as people knock on Facebook, I actually enjoy seeing their updates.

I’ve been ramping BJJ back up again over the last 3 weeks, and I can say that I’m sore and out of shape. But it’s true what they say, it’s like riding a bike. There are several go-to moves that I still have, and it’s fun to catch people off guard (no pun intended). It’s coming back quickly, and I’m hoping that I can keep this up for a while.

Anyway, I wanted to share 3 points in this post:

1. I miss the people that I used to train with.
If you’re one of my old comrades reading this, I hope you’re doing well. I’m reminded of the good ol’ days as hit the mat again. One of the people that I miss the most is Mark Smith. I used to train with him and his son, Ian. Mark passed away a few years ago, and I still find myself emotional thinking about all the times we shared together. I don’t talk about it much, but he was the one that got me to join his school–I didn’t realize that it would have so much impact on me. As I roll with folks, I’m reminded of all our good times talking about martial arts, watching UFC and training together.

2. I need to find my identity outside of work.
I’ve found myself living a minimalist life in San Francisco. I’m proud to have downsized my life, living with less, spending less, etc. The only problem with minimalism is that I the majority of my time is focused on work or growing in my career. I’ve found that most of my conversations somehow gravitate back to work or a project that I’m building. Don’t get me wrong–work, design and my team are a huge part of life, but sometimes it’s probably consumed me. Like any addiction, too much is not healthy. BJJ is bringing back a part of me that I’ve needed for a long time. I’ve had a chance to activate my mind in a different way, forcing me to be creative, observative, and most of all, inspired. I think this is the first of many things to come to extend my network and I’m hoping to tap into a new source of creative energy.

3. Humility is one of the most important lessons.
The act of tapping (a submission), is a way to communicate with your sparring partner that they have reached check-mate. Once you tap, you start over again. While the goal is not to get submitted, it’s part of process. If you don’t tap, you don’t learn. There’s a deeper meaning, and I think this is one of the most important lessons that I’m reminded of. If you want to learn, you have to be willing to tap. It’s how you build muscle memory and defensive tissue so it can avoid it next time.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. While I love BJJ, it comes with a cost. I’m pretty bruised up, sore and exhausted. But my spirits are revitalized. If you’re in SF and you want to train, hit me up.

My New Favorite Gear: The 26oz Yeti Tumbler

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26oz Yeti Tumbler, in black

I’ve been looking for a container to transport my smoothies and cold drinks when I ride around SF. I stopped by REI this weekend and picked up a Yeti Tumbler, and it has become my new favorite piece of gear.

It reduces temperature change by using a vacuum between the metal layers. This is not a new concept by any means, but they seem to have perfected it.

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Expensive, but it could be the last cup you ever use.

The Tumbler costs $40—which is expensive for a container—but it does its job. I thought I was going to use this exclusively for transporting drinks, but I may just use it as my daily cup. There’s a part of me that wants to get another one as a backup. Heh.

The things I love about the design:

  • The handle is simple and has no gimmicks. (Less things to break)
  • The build is stainless steel and feels durable.
  • The dimensions are comfortable to hold.
  • The wide opening makes it easy to drink and refill.

Anyway, if you know me, you know I love cold drinks. I had ice water in it from last night, and when I checked it this morning…it barely melted! ❄️

28oz Yeti Tumblr on Amazon

Weekend Design Session with James and Juan

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Jamming with James and Juan at Expa.

It was cool jamming with these guys this afternoon. Their passion for design is just infectious, and I feel I’m learning a tremendous amount from this group.

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Setting up all the fonts now so I don’t have to do it again later.

As much as I want to jump ahead and design new features on Input, I actually have to take a step back and clean up our sketch files and really look at the entire system. Since we’re redesigning everything, I’m taking the time to set up everything—the fonts, the spacing, the symbols, and the asset naming. The future is looking brighter.

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Juan doing some amazing illustrations.

I’m hoping I can keep the system as simple as possible. It’ll evolve over time, but I’d like to stick to a foundation that we can build on top of for the years to come.

By the way, I’m really looking forward to reading this tomorrow:
Design Systems Handbook

And I’m currently watching a YouTube video of John Vino designing live. It’s pretty cool to watch his process.
Live UX Design with John Vino

Would you watch a video series about remote work?

Pexels photo 450035

I’ve been kicking around an idea about creating a short video series (or blog posts) that dive into remote work, the lifestyle, etc. I wanted to interview remote workers to explore and unpack some of the following questions:

  • What tools work/don’t work (ie. Slack, Asana, Email, Google Docs, etc.)
  • What are problems that haven’t been solve yet for remote workers and companies?
  • How do you build culture around a team that’s remote? (ex. how do you take a coffee break together and bond?)
  • How do you manage people?
  • What do you look for when hiring people that want to work remotely?
  • How do you work asynchronously, with different time zones?
  • Can you build a start-up or creative team remotely? Is it realistic (considering that the odds are already working against you)?
  • How important is it to have face time and on-site presence?
  • Where do you work (home, cafe, co-working)?
  • What do you do with all the extra time not commuting?
  • Is it reasonable for SF/NYC employers to adjust salaries based on remote location/living costs?
  • How do you find, recruit/hire remote people: Job postings, through networks, blog, interview process?
  • Which companies are doing this the best (and are successful)? (ie. automattic, invision, etc) Would you work for them?
  • Is there a playbook that other companies can follow/fork, or does each company have to start this from scratch each time?

This is just a passion project I’ve been kicking around with Sol and I wanted to get a sense of the interest out there. Would you want to watch/read/listen to a series on this? Would you be interested in being part of the series? and are there any questions you would want answered?

Coffee iphone laptop notebook

Just to give you context, I’ve been jamming with a team that’s exclusively remote for the last year. I personally prefer working with people (with a whiteboard), but I totally understand why remote work is the future. San Francisco is expensive, and if the prices keep going up, people are going to be forced to move away. I’m not sure if I’m going make the video yet, but I wanted to run the idea by you—Let me know if the juice is worth the squeeze.

I was inspired by a series I watched recently called Minimalism on Netflix, and I thought that the same story could be told about remote work.

Ps. Also really liked the video that Matt D’Avella (the director) created about how he packs like a minimalist and his minimalist apartment.

Dinner at Fogo de Chao with Expa and Company

Dinner at Fogo

Photo of some of the Expa and Bravado team at Fogo de Chao.

Let me start of by saying that Brazilian food is amazing, and Fogo de Chao is da 💣. It was cool catching up with folks there, talking about design, start-up life, photography and food. Being around so many passionate people (that are masters of their craft) is inspiring.

**Warning: The next photo has some red color meat. Don’t scroll down if you’re vegetarian/vegan/etc**

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A variety of delicious all-you-can-eat proteins.

Oh yeh, did I mention that the salad bar there is probably better than most restaurant foods? I’m crazy about the assortment of things you can try there. The quality is 👌👌.

On a side note, James and I had a chance to talk about astrophotography. As cool as it is to photograph the milky way, I think the pro photographers have really stepped up their game. The most amazing astrophotography I’m seeing now is a combination of landscape, man-made lighting, self-portrait, northern lights, and a touch of the night sky. Here are some ‘grams that caught my eye recently…

Earthfocus 28151656 171421876914851 773411305204744192 n

Photo by @DreamingAndWandering

Bleachfilm 27893671 373526326386356 8160405272188157952 n

Photo by @j.diegoph

Awesomedreamplaces 23348037 350316375430720 8096100472076632064 n

Photo by @mr.bwhit

Milkywaychasers 17437522 1361303123908870 1699983592316207104 n

Photo by tyxiaophotography

Iuriebelegurschi 23416557 517939861909573 4737561953570914304 n

Photo by iuriebelegurchi

Thanks Vitor (and Expa) for inviting us out to this wonderful dinner. 👌

Fogo de Chao