Archive for category Personal

The Perfect Hawaii Vacation – Island Living in Kauai

Rainbow over Ka'napali Coast, KauaiSitting here now in the colder parts of winter, I was thinking back fondly to my trip to Kauai for some recharge and writing time after a business trip to Honolulu. It’s no secret that I love Kauai as an authentic Hawaiian experience, but I also love it for how it feels. A wonderful couple we met at the famous Tahiti Nui one evening provided a remarkable insight on this feeling – that “you can’t tell if you are in the air or in the water, it’s the same temperature as your skin.” That might not be true in the hotter summer months, but what is true is that evidence of what Deepak Chopra calls the bliss particle is all around you, from the moment you get off the plane.

The two times we’ve been to Kauai, we opted for staying on the North Shore, both due to the single lane road that takes you far from the airport and because the only real ‘chain’ business there is the local Foodland. Our first visit we stayed at the St. Regis using all of my SPG points to escape and recharge. This time, we were fortunate to meet Jacalyn at the HomeAway Summit in Seattle and learned about her family’s BeachinKaui property – we fell in love with this gorgeous property in Waihina immediately. You can see for yourself why in the 360/VR photos of the property below (though they are not well lit with my Theta 360 VR Camera).

Everything with the house thankfully was perfect. We had one issue which was resolved super quickly and graciously, handled like the true professionals they are. The house has a solid kitchen with a great lanai for breakfast almost every day, usually after a walk on the beach to catch the sunrise or the tail end of it (as we slept in).  Apparently the producers of the “I Love Lucy Show” built the house back in the day, and of course, “Lucy & Desi Slept Here”. The bed’s were comfortable, the bathroom was very well done and well stocked. They even had a detached ‘kids’ room that had multiple beds to host up to 10 or more. And outback, there was a smaller unit for couples retreats that could be rented with, or separately from the main house to host an extended family group.

Take a look around the house yourself:

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


View from the front Lanai of the backside of Waimea Canyon

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Living / Dining Room / Kitchen

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Master Bedroom

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Master Bath

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


2nd Bedroom

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Backyard Lanai (looking at other unit on property)

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Breakfast Lanai

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Covered Outdoor Lanai (downtstairs) with grill

#Kauai #vr #homeaway #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Outdoor Shower

One of the best parts of doing a vacation rental instead of a hotel is eating healthier and more inexpensively, which we did throughout while still having great meals around the island.  Of course another great thing is being able to do our laundry, which I needed to do after traveling for more then 2 weeks straight. But the best part of staying in a VR like this one, was the sense of what it would be like to actually live there, and the sense of peace and calm I got from staying at this wonderful house eclipsed my expectations.

While we ate dinners out and stepped out for a Mai Tai on a few evenings, I really enjoyed making dinner and staying in one night, barbecuing some type of white fish we had never even eaten before. Starting with some maguro sashimi and seaweed salad we bought along with the fish from The Dolphin in Hanalei. We also managed to get some local purple potatoes and great wine from the Foodland. It was just an awesome vacation, with some work each day writing and several trips to the beach to worship the sun a bit across sunrise, rain storms and sunset.

This time we did get a trip to the south shore when we went on an amazing helicopter ride with Mauna Loa Helicopters where we got to fly with the doors off (and, um, didn’t have the same weight restrictions). First time doing this in Hawaii, and what a great tour of the island. Afterwards we went by Spouting Horn blowhole before Sunset where the explosion in the chicken population was a bit more fascinating then the blowhole itself at this particular time of day.  We also went shopping at the stalls, where we found a great hand carved wooden plaque of a surfboard with the islands laid out across it. Then over to a quick Happy Hour mai tai at Merriman’s Fish House and then dinner in the amazing little town of Koloa at La Spezia, a fantastic Italian restaurant.

This was perhaps one of the best Hawaiian vacations we have ever had. So much more left to explore though. Thankfully, staying somewhere like BeachinKaui really makes it feel like we are living not just visiting the beautiful island of Kauai.

Sunset on West Side of Kauai

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Depression is Normal, But The Stigma Shouldn’t Be

I’ve made no secret of my depression, or my ADD, or my imposter syndrome, or my fight with my inner critic and the self doubt that I face regularly. I share and am open about it for one simple reason – it’s a part of the human condition that need not be stigmatized. That we can no longer afford to stigmatize. That we all must learn to overcome, whether for our own good, or for our family, friends, or coworkers.

Depression hurts, everyone. But it is a normal part of the human condition.

While we should all learn to understand and accept it, depression shouldn’t be normalized as persistent as it is soul crushing. It causes unnecessary harm to everyone who suffers through it, and those who surround them. I know firsthand what it has done to myself, my wife, my startups, and indeed the world over the years. So much personal and social value has been lost and so many opportunities have been missed, while I have been mired in that fog of darkness. In that cold, dark, lonely, fear filled nighttime of the soul.

When we have the knowledge, the science, and now the awareness to improve the lives of so many as well as the richness of society as a whole, why don’t we do better? Why don’t we solve the mental health crisis once and for all, for everyone, individually and collectively?

The first ‘why’ is the stigma, which is why I’ve been open about it for so long. I had conversation with ADHD Coach Pete Quily at Northern Voice in 2007, and his insights and encouragement showed me the need and helped me connect it as one small but mighty aspect of  my life purpose — to heal, unify and orchestrate a #betterworld. In whatever way, small or large that I can.

While fighting my own depression and other personal demons I have… ugh, what a terrible word. Our “demons.” How we exaggerate them and eviscerate our own godliness. Language is so important but even I misuse it frequently, even when sharing deep life long learnings that are part of every one of my days.

These aren’t demons. They’re not even challenges. They are things that happened, or often things that didn’t happen. Things for which I associated negative emotion and through the experience of which I made incorrect assumptions based on that negative feeling and mindset. You see, we each get to choose what events, words, deeds and misdeeds MEAN to us. This is at the core of Buddhism – mindfulness, presence, prayer (setting intention as well as manifesting through the “power” of your God) and most especially, psychology and psychiatry in treating depression.

This is where the Serenity Prayer really hits a home run as a global, cross religious truism:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

What a powerful sentiment. Amazing truly. In many ways, it is reminiscent of a core set of operating system instructions for our interactions with each other and ourselves. Just as with the golden rule:

Do unto other’s as you would have them do unto you.

Regardless of your beliefs or religion or culture, participants in a civil, harmonious society know these sorts of statements to be true.  Maybe we should transcend the boundaries of the concept of civil society and strive for a “harmonious society?” Might that be possible, that we could strive for something even greater than civilization? Given what we have attained so far, it might not be such a bad idea to strive for an even higher model of interaction for society.

The point here is depression is normal. We need to be able to talk about it, and empathize with those going through it. We need to improve how we facilitate people discovering their own solutions. We need improve the distribution and acceptance of all evidence based solutions that produce real results. IMHO, we need to urgently work together to get beyond this tremendously costly societal challenge whether we want to sustain civilization or transcend it in the creation of a Harmonious Society.

If the internet has been declared a fundamental human right by the UN, access to knowledge and all forms of healthcare, especially mental health care in all its approached, should also be foundational rights for all humanity. Literally, this is for the good of society. This is for your best interests as well as mine. It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up. In today’s interconnected, interdependent society, if everyone is better off, I am better off, not lesser for it.

But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start simple. We all must accept and appreciate that depression is a normal part of the human condition.

If you care about someone or something, or if you want to create something – art, a startup, a movement, a family, anything really, you will face struggles. You will be challenged. You will need to overcome adversity. You will have to learn from others and figure things out on your own.

You will lose. You will make mistakes. You will have people say mean things to you. You will face acts of God. You will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad people may do bad things to you. You will feel mad about it. You will feel sad about it. You will undoubtedly face a moment where it will be easier to escape or wallow in the darkness then to face it, then bouncing back – learning more and taking the next action you need to take in setting your mind, and the world right in the face of it.

The thing is, as I’ve found, you not only get to choose what it means to you, you get to choose what to do about it.

With love, knowledge, care, and the support of friends, family and society, I see a day where no one need dwell in depression excessively. Where depression is normal, but suffering alone in it is not. Indeed there are lessons that come from depression too as you may have found in some of my thoughts in this post today. So it will still arise and persist, it just needn’t persist for long. For all these reasons and so many others, this is why I have found so much personal freedom and liberation and power in “The Four Agreements“.

Be impeccable with your word
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t take things personally
Always do your best
 — Paraphrasing Don Miguel Ruiz

We’ve got a long way to go towards a fully harmonious society. Maybe 50, maybe 100 years, or maybe never. Or maybe something really bad happens and our leaders, and our society as a whole, wake up and start taking right actions and following the principles of the eightfold path and the teachings of their own gods. Maybe then, we can all be better off in a #betterworld.

But let’s start simple, let’s accept that depression is a normal part of the human condition, but stigmatizing it isn’t and should not be any longer. More so, let us all commit to do whatever we can to help more people find a path through it so they can get the most of life for themselves and for the betterment of each and every one of us.

Let's lift each other up, out of depression and into a better society.

 — Please comment and share this post if anything here strikes a chord for you. If this post is interesting to you, you might be interested in my work on The Noble Pursuit, or on what we have started to do with Rysing Tyde. —

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Calling on Karma: Please Help Me Find a New Job

Chris HeuerAs I’ve long said, “Karma works, it just doesn’t pay on demand.” So while I am reluctant to make any demands, I am not averse to asking for you to help me find a great team, inside a great company doing epic work. A role where I can be who I am, contribute all I have and be a catalyst for exponential value creation.

So what do I want to do?

Given my inter-disciplinary background and cross-industry experience, trying to answer this question is the biggest reason I have waited until now to post this request for your help. After making the decision that I was unable to continue personally funding development on Will Someone and Alynd shortly after SxSW, I’ve been doing a lot of market research and soul searching. I’ve been reviewing where the market is headed and how that intersects with my skills, but I haven’t been able to nail it down to one particular job or even one industry. I’d even be open to moving, though that will involve a longer conversation given our strong ties here in Silicon Valley and love for my home of San Francisco.

At the moment, I’m most excited about augmented reality/vr and its potential impact on collaboration, as well as advancing how it is used in social interactions. It’s also why I am advising Spiritual VR (another combination of several of my interests and talents).  But I’m equally excited about the advancements in cognitive computing, AI and more natural user interfaces. In fact, I have a few visions for products in my head that keep popping up, such as an Augmented Reality collaboration experience that integrates shared white boards, voice based AI assistance and dynamically generated action lists. (If you want to hear more, I’d be happy to share it).

What I know with certainty is that I want to join a strong team where I can hang my hat for a while instead of just passing through on assignment. I could be a team leader or a team player. I could join an existing team or help stand up a new one. I’d be open to a funded early startup, but most likely will end up at a more mature high growth organization, maybe running an innovation lab for someone in the valley? The right opportunity is most likely in the technology sector, is a strategic role and will leverage my public speaking/evangelism talents as I continue to endeavour to advance the field, help organizations transform and invent the future.

I would love to take on the role of Customer Experience Architect, which I spoke about extensively in my IBM sponsored BLAB series CXDNow this past fall and in this talk “Experience Design and Your Customer’s Journey“. There just aren’t that many job openings for such a position/role that I’ve seen. Experience Design is more common now thankfully, but I am looking at it in a much more strategic way – perhaps for a broader portfolio of products. In that I have managed several software products to launch as well as numerous digital marketing projects, it seems that product marketing may be the best focus for me but I am not limited to this direction by any means. If you know me, you know I can do pretty much anything.

Over the past 20 years I have developed quite a body of work around what I’ve called holistic business strategy. This truly defines my brand, but is not widely understood as it is more then a 30,000 foot view of the business, it is a 30,000 light year view of a company and its position in the broader market, and society, it serves. Within this space, I’ve developed personalized marketing frameworks, software and programs, particularly around engagement strategy. More recently, I’ve expanded on this with the recognition that it is a whole new school of thought I am developing – something which I now call “Ecosystem Thinking” and have previously discussed as a key aspect of “The Adaptive Economy“. It’s a combination of design thinking, systems thinking and platform strategy benefitting from network effects. This leads to some interesting senior level opportunities working with software platforms seeking to build a stronger developer and customer community.

Please Help Me Start Some Conversations

I am already talking to a few great companies about some interesting roles that fit my background very well. What I really need to do now though is start increasing the volume of conversations I am having about joining a new team. If you think you might know of the right opportunity for me (and for them), please do make the introduction. Whether it’s product marketing, social media, social business, augmented reality, innovation, developer programs or digital transformation, I’m likely interested.

In the mean time, I am still doing consulting through AdHocnium right now, if you do just need some short term assistance while I am in the midst of this search, and I still have room for one more startup to advise.

One more thing… (an acquihire?)

Part of the reason this has been so long in the making is that I know I was on the right path with Alynd and am now even learning to code so I can build one of the next components in my broader vision for the future of work. It’s hard for me to quit something so important, but financial reality is what it is. To this end, I’m also open to an acquihire with the right company so that I might contribute my time as well as all the intellectual property we’ve developed over the past three years. Given the current lack of interested in acquihire’s, this seems less likely, but I am putting it out there in case any of my Alynd/Will Someone competitors might be interested in making a compelling offer… I wrote about my perspective on this last week in my blog post “Microsoft + Linkedin: A Linkedin Killer’s View“.

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Preparing for the Future, We Must Understand our Present

Seeing more clearly, our future through the lens of the present...As part of the IBM Futurist programs, #NewWayToWork and #NewWayToEngage, I’ve received great access to some of the brightest folks around IBM. To talk with them, learn from them and become friends with them. Is IBM perfect, no, of course not, no one is. People have bad days, some people have bad attitudes and some are just bad ass! Everyone is different, which is why I appreciate the chance to meet so many different people in my life’s journey.

But truly, one of the best parts of being in both programs, is the access to other futurists, many of whom were already friends, some of which have become my friends.  Next week, I get a chance to get together with them again as part of TED at IBM, as well as with other soon to be friends whom I not only never met, but in some cases never even heard of before this event. People who give me hope, who inspire me, who have ideas that will make mine better and with whom I hope to reciprocate in appreciation of their gift.

In preparation for next week’s event, they asked many of us to answer a bunch of questions about the world today and what’s really important to us. This is important, because to understand the world in which we live (and the organizations in which we work), we must make visible and understand our common and disparate values. What we each hold dear, or even sacrosanct. The answers below, while simple in some cases and maybe obvious in another, also tells a bit about the story of that person. At least if you actually know them it does in a more meaningful way.  See for yourself and scroll past it to see a personal addition, a photo of the only personal item I would take with me on a long term space mission.

 

So what is the one thing I would bring with me? Did you read it in the presentation or just skip? No matter, it is this note my mom left for me one night when I flew home after living away in Philadelphia for a couple years. If you are interested in learning more about my mother, just ask my fraternity brothers about the time she stayed in the frat house and how she touched their lives. Or you can read it from her own words in this book she wrote on her life with Cerebral Palsy.

From across the whole of my life, it’s the most precious thing in, other then my wife Kristie, but she’s a great human, not a great thing 🙂 Anyway, just felt like sharing as I am feeling overwhelmingly grateful at this moment for an amazing week in DC and looking forward to another great week ahead back in San Francisco, with my friends, old and new, as we look to the future together.

My Mom's note I carry with me everywhere.

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My Photo in Opening Sequence of Intruders on BBC

In the ain’t it cool department, this ranks up there for me. As many of you know, I love photos, and occasionally take some pretty good ones – portraits, landscape, abstract, weddings, sunsets, conferences and more.  Occasionally, I shoot photos from planes of the earth below. So this one time while we were circling SEA-TAC on my way to help launch Social Media Club Seattle in December of 2006, the sky was just too brilliant to pass up, so I whipped out my Canon Rebel and grabbed this amazing shot of Seattle and Mt. Rainier (that has been viewed a whopping 282 times)

SMC_Seattle - 3.jpg

Looks like it will be viewed a few millions times over the weeks ahead with the season premiere of new BBC “paranormal thriller” series called Intruders tomorrow night – debuting right after Doctor Who’s season premiere with the new Dr! Check out the series opener for Intruders below and you can see my photo at the 19 second mark.

So to answer your question, they found it through Creative Commons but I am expecting a small licensing fee from communications with the production company. Regardless, I am just ecstatic to have something I shot used in a television series being aired by one of my favorite media companies, the BBC where so many of my friends have worked over the years. Given the ‘special relationship’ I have with the UK (me personally), it’s all the more special. Given that this premiers right after Dr. Who, well, that means I get to share a moment with a bunch of friends when we watch this together at my house tomorrow night. You are coming right?

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CES 2014 – Technology Solutions, Not Gadgets

Bonsai LightI’ve been trying to synthesize everything I have been seeing at this year’s CES into some trends and insights on a macro level, but the pattern wasn’t clear to me till just now. I have a lot more of the show floor to see today, but I’ve talked to a lot of press, analysts, startups (IndieGogo and Kickstarter companies are everywhere) and industry leaders, so I have a fair impression at this point which started forming after my meeting with my friends at Seagate, my tour of Eureka Park and my limited time in the Lenovo Lounge (where I am co-hosting their Social Media party tonight).

From what I have seen, it feels that there is a lot more harmony between technology and our daily lives in the solutions being offered, and there are truly more solutions for life instead of technology for technologies sake. Makers, engineers, developers, designers and business folks are thinking more holistically and more focused on real world needs and applications of technical insight. No where was that more visible then in the number of solutions around controlling lighting, or creating ambiance through it as Bonsai Light does. But Bonsai isn’t as yellow as they are green, with their unique energy harvesting technology.

Chris Heuer and Rick Wootten reflected in the LaCie Christofle SphereCES started for me on Monday when I kicked off the week by visiting with my dear friend and former Palm colleague, Rick Wootten over at the Seagate lounge in the Vdara. I personally have a Seagate Wireless Plus that I take everywhere with all my media and a backup of my key files off my laptop (for the just in case situations), but have been struggling to love it because of the mediocre media browser app they offered with it. I am happy to report that the new app they are bringing out shortly (in the next month I believe) will finally solve my challenge with this. I am unhappy to report that I love the new Seagate Slim models so much, I think I need to buy one. The other major software improvement they made is a new mobile device synchronization backup service that lets you move files from your mobile tablet or phone to your storage device with one click of a button, wirelessly.

Seeing everything that Seagate is doing (they now own LaCie btw) is what got me into a solution state of mind actually. They are no longer just a hard drive company.  Seagate Central (I also own this for my home storage cloud) and their other drives now connect and synchronize with each other, making it easier then ever to have a simple to use file backup, media server and even social media backup configuration at home. I don’t think I will be getting the new LaCie Chirstofle designed Sphere myself, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous storage device as you can see from the photo of it with myself and Rick reflected in its shiny silver plated surface.

One thing I saw that I am going to buy right away, is the Seagate Rescue and Replace data protection plan (I’m still in the window to add this to my prior purchase). I suspect everyone who has been around tech for a while will also buy this with every new drive they purchase. In short, for $30, you insure your hard drive so that if anything happens to it. Whether it just fails, gets dropped into a toilet, run over by a car or chucked up against a wall in frustration at a spinning beach ball, you can get your data back and drive replaced. Apparently the team there has a 90+% recovery rate, one of the best out there, if not the best. Better still, after you send in the damaged drive, they send you back a new drive with all your data on it and do a very secure shred of the drive and destroy all copies of the data. The one time I had to recover a drive during my first startup in the 90’s it cost me $1,400 to attempt recovery of something like 10GB.

One other thing that has me impressed and thinking about the harmony between technology and life is the Lenovo Yoga Tablet, which I am going to be buying shortly if I can’t manage to get a product loaner for a while. But I need to get out to the show floor, so I will need to tell you why my long time friends and occasional client Lenovo has me thinking about something other then an iPad…

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Wonder – a poem

And you often wonder why,
And you sometimes wonder how,
But you never quite find out.
Even when you reason with the mind,
Even when you feel with the heart,
Nought to you is ever revealed.
Though your quest began in earnest,
Though your path is paved with good deeds,
Never for a moment are you certain.
Yet you strive for even greater things,
Yet you fight the battle every day,
Because you have faith in spite of not knowing.
Neither natural disaster nor man-made mistake,
Neither purposeful malice nor accidental action,
Withdraws the whispering white wind from your sails.
Either you’ve developed uncommon resolve,
Through patience, compassion and hard work,
Or you already know the answers you seek.

– Written in late1995

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All I want for Christmas is a Rockstar Developer

Wells' Christmas TreeI still want peace on earth too, but in order for me to contribute to that lofty goal, what I really want, well, what I really need, is to find a lead engineer to join Alynd as a cofounder who can code in their sleep and solve complex problems with elegant poetry.  As long as I am asking Santa, I might as well ask for the stars and the moon, right? It is after all, the only thing I really want this Christmas, though I will take it as a New Year’s present too of course! Or even Valentines day if I must, but it would break my heart if we haven’t found true love by Valentines day.

Here’s the kicker, and the present that I can offer the universe to even out this very selfish, business related Christmas Wish. Up until now, my company has really been focused on finding and locating our team mates in the bay area, but the war for talent, even at the startup level, is so fierce, Bill Sanders, Rawn Shah and I have decided that we are going to build a next generation organization ourselves. So instead of centralizing everyone in the Bay Area, we will work as a virtual, distributed company. As such, I am seeking a rockstar developer / lead engineer who will be able to work from home, somewhere outside the valley from across the USA and even up in Canada.

After speaking to my friend Chris Kenton of SocialRep.com and learning how he operates his distributed development team, I was fascinated. When I read Scott Berkun’s The Year Without Pants, I was becoming a believer. When even my friends and ‘family’ asked me to fill this particular role and complete our MVP before they would invest in Alynd, I realized it was time to rethink our approach to recruiting for this position. You see, other startup friends, recruiters, venture capitalists and even our advisors have not been able to help us find someone – in fact, many are in the same situation themselves. With bay area developers asking for and getting $200k each, even those with barely any real world experience, it just makes establishing a headquarters for operation here nearly impossible. It is truly the big leagues, a near equivalent of professional sports. So unless you are the code developer equivalents of Lames, Wade and Bosh, or participating in one of the incubators, its really tough.

So we decided to look at things differently. We realized we should be ‘dogfooding’, not only with our own Alynd Software as a Service, but with the networked organizational and operational structure we see as the future of business. So recently we began to explore what that organization would look like, and it seems like the smart choice is to find team mates to join us who had a balanced, happy life already, who could contribute value to our company from wherever they were happiest. Then, as Chris Kenton does with his SocialRep team, we could get together every 4-6 weeks in person somewhere for a sort of ‘sprint’ in agile terminology.

Recently, Bill and I traveled to Tucson to do the first of what we are calling our regular “Alynements” with Rawn, working for 4 days together focused on how we were going to operate our private alpha release and early sales cycle. We talked product road map, debated the merits of different facets of our ‘big story’ and bonded a bit more too. I can’t wait to actually use our software for the next one we will be doing in February.

Hopefully, if I get my Christmas Wish (perhaps with your help if you forward this to a friend) we will be able to make someone else’s Christmas a little brighter too. So who are we looking for, besides someone awesome who lives outside the Bay Area?

Ideally the right person will have had some bad experiences working inside companies that struggled to build a positive culture and had difficulty collaborating across boundaries inside their traditional silos. They will be frustrated with the state of the current tools we have been given for collaborating and communicating as part of work, and they even realize that social technologies aren’t quite doing it right yet. Having some experience building social software, for individuals, small teams and large enterprises would be a huge plus though. Prior experience working in a startup would be a must, as is crazy proficiency with virtual team situations, as well as having a very dynamic, questing disposition. More details and a link to apply can be found over here on Social Media Jobs.com.

Given that Alynd hasn’t yet raised any money, though we are on Angels List and hoping to do so in early 2014, the right person would ideally be working the next several months largely for equity with a minimal salary to start, moving up quickly as we grow.

One thing that is essential to understand is that we really need someone who can not only manage themselves, but someone who can see problems and opportunities before they arise, and move towards them without needing us to tell them – a true self starter. In this sense, there are two ways we could go with this position, a rockstar full stack developer who can spit out code as easily as rhymes; or an engineering team leader who can build out a team while still actively contributing to the codebase. Ultimately we need both…

So it’s Christmas eve day, and while I am here with my wife’s family enjoying some rest and time together, I am still of a singly focused mind – how do we bring the vision we have for Alynd into the world? What can I do to make us successful? How can I give this great gift to the world?

Simple. I need one thing that you, my friends, colleagues and family can give me. All I want for Christmas is a Rock Star Developer. There has to be someone living in the US, who is the perfect fit. Please share this and help me find them.

And then enjoy the rest of your Christmas with your family and friends, like I am going to do for the next 36 hours. See you on Facebook in the meantime with everyone else…

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NOTE: I want to make a special request to encourage female engineers to submit their resume’s for consideration. We believe that the success of our software will ultimately require a truly diverse team, from different genders, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Why will become apparent should we interview you.

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Obituary for Edward P. Jankowski, Age 97

Ed Jankowski's 94th Birthday

Edward Jankowski, 97, passed away this past Wednesday night of natural causes. He is survived by his son Jack Jankowski, his son’s extended family and a grandson, Chris Heuer (that’s me). Jack’s son Tony Jankowski recounts Ed’s pride and happiness to know that the Jankowski name is carried on through his children, and now their children, where recently 5 generations of Jankowski were photographed together beginning with Ed, his son Jack, Jack’s son Tony, Tony’s sons (AJ, Tyler, Clayton) and AJ’s son Tristan.

Ed was a kind, faithful, friendly and happy man with a keen mind who was loved by all who knew him, and all he met. Active well into his 90’s, he played golf five days a week until arthritis and artificial knees with expired warranties denied him his mobility and grace at the age of 92. Old age had begun to take its toll the last several years, but his warm smile and character never suffered.

A grave side memorial service will be held on Saturday November 9, 2013 at 11am at Woodlawn Caballero Cemetery and Funeral Home in Kendall on 107th Avenue where he will be buried next to his wife, Louise Jankowski.

Born in 1916, he saw the depression through the eyes of a teenager, eating so much chicken as a child, he would never eat it again in his life. The son of immigrants from Lithuania and Poland, he lived a comfortable middle class life with over 36 years in retirement. His life was rich with experiences uncommon for most men of that era. He lived an active lifestyle boating, fishing, golfing and spending as much time in the sun as he could after many cold winters shoveling snow in his native Chicago. His life was largely defined by the love he had for his wife, Louise, with whom he spent more then 50 years of his life. Though she passed in 1993 a few months after Hurricane Andrew tore through the home in Perrine, FL that he and the rest of his extended family had called home since 1976, he remained faithful to her until the day he died.

After working at a parking garage in Chicago for a number of years in his younger years, he was promoted to the role of driver for a family businessman who owned many downtown Chicago garages in the 1930’s. He was fortunate to be off on the day in which his boss, his replacement driver and several others were gunned down in a Chicago Gangland Shooting at a barber shop in a style all too typical of that era. After proving he was not involved in the incident to the satisfaction of the owners family and colleagues, he got another job, which ultimately lead him to the career of his lifetime as a machinist in a factory.

When WWII broke out, with a newly born daughter with Cerebral Palsy, he was able to stay away from the front lines while supporting the war effort building B-25 bombers, routing miles and miles of electrical harnesses for hundreds of planes. When the war was over he found work at Continental Can/Whitecap building, running and maintaining the machinery that produced cans and the tops to bottles and jars. He was exceptional as a machinist and could figure out any engineering problem easily with his sharp mind and soft heart, building close ties with both co-workers and management.

In the early 1950’s he left the city of Chicago behind to move to the suburbs of Glenview, IL where he literally built his first house which stood till just a few years ago at 34 Lincoln Street. His can do spirit inspired his children, Amanda and Jack. He loved them dearly though he could never really tell them, as the stoic men of his era didn’t have that sort of emotional expression in their repertoire. He gave his daughter Amanda every chance for success by encouraging her to live a life of a normal child as best as possible despite her Cerebral Palsy. Ultimately she was one of the first ‘handicapped’ children to ever graduate from a public high school in the Chicago school system.

He stayed with the same company for over 25 years until taking an early retirement at 61 to move along with the entire extended family, including his wife’s sister’s family to live near each other in Miami. He would say, “it’s just too damn cold. I want to be where it’s warm.”

His daughter Amanda lived with him throughout her life except for brief marriages to Leo Heuer, the father of her only child, Chris, and the second love of her life Frank, until her untimely death in 1995 from Cirrhosis after a life long struggle grappling with the frustration inherent in a brilliant mind and beautiful soul trapped in a broken body. Ed’s gregariousness was passed down to his family and you can see him in their smiles and when they smile through their eyes. Mandy as she liked to be called, touched as many if not more lives then Ed did learning to roller skate, volunteer in her son’s school and being a recognized member of the communities in which she lived.

Ed and his wife Louise loved to just get in the car and drive. Every winter vacation would involve a drive from Chicago to Miami Beach, through Louise’s home state of Kentucky to visit with family and friends. In later years, before her death, they would drive from Miami to Naples where they would stay a few days at their favorite beachfront hotel listening to the waves roll in and watching the sunset. They never did get to Las Vegas together, a lifelong dream, but through their senior citizens club at St Louis Church in South Miami, they would often go over to the Bahamas on day trips aboard Sea Escape, or to Orlando to visit Disney World. When Epcot opened they took their grandson where he saw and was forever enraptured by a technology driven future and the realization that we could always develop new ideas to make the world a little better – a trip that ignited his imagination and set the stage for his entire life.

Mostly, Ed and Louise just sat together, read, and held hands. While he didn’t express his love in verbal ways, the light of love shined brightly in his eyes whenever he would look at her, ensuring that everyone, especially her, knew the depth and breadth of his heart. Every day after work at the factory she would welcome him home, he would make his martini, kick off his shoes and sit back in his La-Z-Boy to enjoy a pipe before dinner. She was briefly a cook for a high school and was a wizard in the kitchen, but most importantly she was a guiding force as the matriarch of the extended family.

In Miami he had to wait several years till he was able to get a spot as a member at Briar Bay Golf Course, where he played every weekday for almost 30 years. Between the golf course and his senior citizen club, he watched as way too many of his friends and family passed away, with only a handful of people who knew him still on this earth today. He and his friends would always get to the course early and vie for a position to be the first to tee off. He made friends easily, always courteous, always smiling and always with a witty comment at the ready.

Even though he was retired, he joined a business men’s bowling league at Don Carter’s Bowling Center where he bowled every Thursday night from the late-1970’s until the early 1990’s. For some reason he took his grandson with him (me), feeding him quarters to play video games, buying him French fries and letting him play pool. His teammates always got a kick out of the way his grandson exchanged bards and smiles with him, occasionally celebrating his multiple strikes and high scores, but mostly giving him shit and warning him to ‘not choke’. Even then, he still smiled and laughed, and his teammates were encouraging to that young child as it persisted until he went off to college, and even then occasionally when he returned for a visit. After picking up a bit of golf in college, Ed half-jokingly remarked to his grandson that he never took him to the golf course because that was the only place he could find peace and quiet.

His daughter’s cerebral palsy was bad enough that she couldn’t bowl in the traditional way. But there was a bowling league for people with disabilities, and every Saturday night he took her, his wife and his grandson to that league where they volunteered and she learned how to use a special ramp to direct the ball down the lanes. Ultimately, unhappy with the quality of the ramps that they loaned out, he built her a new and better one, and he ultimately built several for other members of the league. That ramp increased her average by almost 20 points to the delight of both son and daughter.

Bowling ran in the family, and the family spent a lot of time at Don Carter’s Bowling Center with his grandson ultimately getting a small college scholarship for the sportsmanship he displayed in his traveling league, a trait that was most certainly imbued in him by Ed.

After outliving both his wife and his daughter, Ed was fortunate to have many friends with whom we would occasionally go out to dinner and often play penny ante poker one day every week. While he was often alone, he was never truly lonely, until the last of his friends also passed and his body gave way to old age.

His son Jack and his wife Joanne ultimately took him in to their home after getting to the point where he was no longer adequately taking care of himself. They looked after him for nearly a decade, ensuring that he didn’t have to go into an institution for his final years. Only a few days after going into hospice last week, he passed away at approximately 8:10pm the day after his wife’s birthday, November 6, 2013.

Author/Grandson’s Note:

Ed Jankowski and his grandson at Briar Bay Golf Course circa 2010I’m sad that I wasn’t there for him at the end, to help guide him, to give him comfort and to let him know it was ok, that he was loved. What he did for me can’t be put into words. When Louise passed, I was living in Philadelphia and they didn’t want to worry me because they knew I would want to fly down there to be by her side, so they called me the night before the triple bypass from which she ultimately didn’t emerge. I told her in that call that it was ok, that she could let go if she wanted to and that I would do my best to look after Ed and Mandy.  I know she was staying around to do that job herself.

Unfortunately I didn’t know that Ed had been slipping the last couple of weeks, and worse the last couple of times I did call, I wasn’t able to get him on the phone because he was either sleeping or in the bathroom. I didn’t call enough in the final weeks because it had grown too difficult to talk to him when he just repeatedly told me about his medical struggles and his desire to just die and be done. Our wonderful family doctor, Dr. Zimmerman, had said for 20+ years that he would live to be 100. He was almost right.

When both my mom and grandma passed away, I asked grandpa Ed a big favor. I asked him “Please don’t die before I have kids. I want them to know you.” He was such an amazing man and I was so selfish. I know in part he hung on because of this request.  We had a very special bond, more then just grandfather and grandson. We had become friends from those nights in the bowling alley and all the times he drove me around to football practice, to my computer programming classes at community college to school events and yes, to Disney World/Epcot.

He taught me to drive in Cutler Ridge mall. He gave me his favorite car and I wrecked it less then two weeks later, though not my fault. He not only ensured that I was able to go to college and get the first college degree in our family, but he loaned me money to start InfoApps in 1999, and again when I got into financial trouble when my consulting work wasn’t going well. He was my rock. I am who I am because of the opportunities, support and love he gave me.

When I saw him last in June, I took him to buy new shoes. We went to Florsheim and ended up buying what he told me was the most expensive pair of shoes he ever owned.  We went to Outback Steakhouse for his favorite meal with my aunt and uncle as we did for almost all of my visits over the last decade. When we were alone I told him that it was ok, that he could let go and that when he was ready he could move on. It was a difficult conversation, as he never knew how to respond to such direct and emotional discussions. But he nodded, understanding.

I left that evening and wept for almost 15 minutes as I drove up the Palmetto. I had a sense that it was likely the last time I was going to see him. Of course I hoped differently, and we had planned to see him this Thanksgiving for one of the first holiday meals together in many years.

Instead, I cashed in those tickets to pay for the trip to his funeral this weekend.

Don’t ever hesitate to call or visit. Don’t ever hesitate to express love. Don’t ever think something doesn’t matter. Everything matters. Every word. Every deed. Every thought. Every heartfelt gesture. Make the most of them all with the loved ones you have while you have them.

I was fortunate to have had him in my life as long as I did. But I still feel robbed. Yes, I go on, and we persist. I have a wonderful wife and a crazy happy life where I get to enjoy the world more then most, compensation perhaps for early struggles and difficult days. But I have what I have because he, and my grandmother and my mother believed in me and gave me a loving home and every opportunity to become something greater then where we started. That love and encouragement made me believe in myself enough, and find enough courage to try to make a difference in this world. Sometimes it is that courage to try that is all that is needed to inspire others, but without love, respect and compassion in the intention of the work, it would be nothing and I would have nothing.

I learned all of that and more from Edward Peter Jankowski, my gramps. He was my best friend. I will miss him so much. I just want to play 9 more holes with him, or share one more meal, or just one more loving embrace. I won’t be able to do that again, but I have 44 years of memories, more then most get with their grandparents, and for that I am forever grateful.

Given his condition of late, I must admit I am happy he is not suffering any longer, it was indeed time to go, and I am sure my grandma had something to do with it, helping him shuttle off his mortal coil and join her in spirit.

After the inevitable grieving over the next few days and weeks ahead, I will celebrate his life and I will go on. Through my life, Edward Peter Jankowski, his big heart, his infectious smile and his legacy of kindness to all will live on.

UPDATE: During the funeral service I spoke with my cousin Tony and updated the obituary to reflect conversations Ed had with him about his son’s extended family carrying on the Jankowski name. The story of my name is much more complicated. We should have changed it to Jankowski, but I just got used to it.  Though I never knew my father, and my mother remarried to become a DeNormandie, I felt that since I was born a Heuer I would remain a Heuer.

The service was simple. We had a brief open casket viewing on the parlor which I had thought I would forego, but after his son told me he looked peaceful we went into the room to see him and say good bye. I felt a much lighter feeling then I expected and was glad to see him one last time. At the graveside, after the preacher read some bible passages I gave a short eulogy to celebrate his life and basically told everyone to read this if they wanted to hear the rest. Facebook posts referenced as eulogies. Wow. But how appropriate. I think he would have been embarrassed knowing how many lives he touched through this post and the one I made to Facebook the day after he died. For me though, I was glad to let people know how special he was, and how much he touched this world and how much he shaped me. I am forever grateful to have had him in my life so long.

 

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Seeking Co-Founders for My New Startup

So I am finally making some of the information about the startup I am developing public, starting with the company profile on Angels List and a simple list of the co-founder roles I am seeking to fill. While in stealth, I am operating under AdHocnium until we go public with the name and the alpha launch.

If you know someone who might be a fit for any of these posiitons, please make an introduction or send them to the job postings on Angels List.

 

I really don’t need to do the Angels List thing, but honestly, they have done such an awesome job with the site and building the community, I felt compelled to publish the info about us from there and welcome any serendipity that may come from it beyond my network and friends.

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