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TYMMPB… | We Chilled

You’re one. WTF.

This is how you turned one. Rough night for you. Rough few days (week?) You woke up crying at 1045. I picked you for the long haul at 1115 after some pick ups and put downs.

Jaanu 1

But you know? It’s all good. You’ve earned it. You have had such an understated year.

You were born in the shadow of a job switch and your sister going to school.

You were so quiet on our first vacation people wondered where you were.

You moved between nannies while smiling at each and every one.

You waited to crawl until nobody was really watching probably because you didn’t want to be a distraction.

You moved houses before you moved yourself.

You’ve been teething for 8 months and just got a tooth.

The sourest demeanor you ever have is cured by taking you outside so you can wave … to everyone.

You take meds with a smile (like you take everything else.)

You love your sister and let her make you smile like I never knew smiling was possible.

You are a momma’s boy. Keep that, homie. It will get you far. Or at least, protect you forever.

You have your grandfathers in you (and in your name), linked to them forever (and ever.)

You take your time. The more we rush and hustle around you the more you naturally, instinctively, and subtly, humble our pace.

You are everything this whole family needed.

You are what your mom ordered but what I needed. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for this moment. Some rare QT.

And I get to brag that you turned one in my arms. (Note: I put you back in your crib peacefully a second before posting this. You probably woke up and faked some tears so I could have this moment and story to tell.) HBD, Jaanu!

This, by the way, was how you woke up. Not so bad, huh?

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My $.02 | Why I am Joining Help Scout

Apologies. I’m out of practice on the blog front, and I’m writing this stream of conscious style because…I start a new job tomorrow. But I digress. Let’s start with a story?

I’ve been married for 5.5 years now. It’s a long time for some. It’s just scratching the surface for others. For me, it’s the only marriage I’ve known personally. So it’s both the longest and shortest one I’ve been a part of. Funny way of thinking about it.

Periodically, people with poor judgement will ask me the secret to a happy marriage. There’s no secret. One of my favorite pieces of advice is actually to know it’s ok to go to bed angry! Better than saying something stupid. But what I think makes for a successful marriage is how you solve problems. I get along with the entire world when we agree on things. But when the “fit hits the shan”, how do we solve problems together?

In that regard, my wife and I are like lego pieces. She is…a royal pain the *ss when it comes to the smallest decision. Trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight, the night I write this, has been a 3hr 20minute discussion — and we still have no dinner options.

But when it comes to something big? Material? Something that matters? I’m the 2×4 plate to her 2×4 brick (because let’s be serious, she’s the substance of this relationship.) Buying a house. Leasing a car. Moving to North Carolina, and back again. And leaving LiveIntent because something didn’t feel right? Those were conversations that took seconds. A look in the eye. A gut check on the “why” I was making this decision. And then nothing but full, unwavering support for my decision. Even with a second kid on the way, all I got from Priya was “We’ll be fine. Find your happy.”

I don’t want to spend a second on why I left LiveIntent. Matt Keiser was the best person I have ever worked for. The Marketing Team was the best Marketing Team I’ve ever worked with. The people across the company were the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s been a month and I miss them like hell. But it was the right move.

Early in my career I made decisions based on bosses as mentors. Which is why I have had the benefit of having some absolutely amazing ones. Maria Valez and Mark Macaravage at Prudential. Mary O’Malley at Prudential. Jim Burke at Prudential, DnB, and Global Compliance. Robert Schwartz and Prudential Securities. Kristine Tanno at Prudential Securities. Jordan McConnell at DnB. Steve Hagerty at Hagerty Consulting. Tony Haile at Chartbeat. And Matt Keiser at LiveIntent. I’d say that 9 out of 10 would speak positively of me. And I believe I could still call on 8 our of 10 for a reference today. But I digress. My point is that I picked jobs based on bosses as mentors. But at a certain point, it becomes less about bosses as mentors and more about bosses as collaborators. As peers. As people with shared approaches to decision-making.

I’ve had enough experience in my life to have strong opinions (weakly held, as I steal a line from my new boss, perhaps the line that closed me during the interview process). I’m looking less for mentors and more for people who want to make decisions with me. And who want to make those decisions based on a value system that matches mine.

I found those values and that partner in Nick Francis at Help Scout.

Before I joined LiveIntent, I reached back out to my former bosses and peers and asked their advice. What could I do better. What could I evolve. And they brought the thunder. I internalized all of the feedback I received and approached LiveIntent committed to being hard on myself and committing myself to evolving and changing. I leave LiveIntent confident that I’ve done that. The validation for me is a combination of what the company accomplished while I was there, and the relationships I’ve made and sustained with people since I’ve left.

As I enter Help Scout, it’s almost the opposite. It’s no longer about what I need to change. Because I realize now that there will always be an infinite number of things I can change, do better, improve, etc. I enter Help Scout with clarity about the things I value. The things I don’t want to change. The things I will never change.

  • Man in the Mirror. It might be hokey, but I’m fine with it. And it’s a great f*cking song. But problem solving at every level, especially at the Executive Level has to start with the Man in the Mirror. There’s an honesty and a humility that is necessary to be a leader these days. It is anchored in an honest assessment first and foremost of the role you played as a leader in putting those dependent on you in a position to succeed or fail.
  • Start with why. Every decision that was ever made was somebody making a deliberate choice for an explicit reason. I believe it is imperative to start every discussion by trying to understand why decisions were made. It saves time. It build empathy. And it makes everyone in the room smarter. If you start at the decision and the outcomes first, you set a bad habit.
  • Focus on process over outcomes. I don’t want to get to MoneyBall here, but there’s value in focusing on doing the right things. There will always be one-offs and aberrations but I can’t control for those. I can only make sure we did all the right things along the way. I’m committed to efforts and believe if you play the right game, the long game, the results will follow (and be sustainable and repeatable.)
  • Take care of your people. We’ve gotten too excited about the new. Whether its employees or customers. We’re an acquisition economy and a disposable society. Those are terrible practices. For me, there’s value in loyalty. Talk to your longest standing employees. Value your longest standing customers. Focus on what you have and meet their needs. It will take you to amazing places.

There are so many more values. There are so many more things to cover. But the above four bullets encapsulate so much of my decision. Except one.

I was introduced to Help Scout through people who knew me very well. What I value. How I work. How I treat people. And they insisted that I take the conversation with Nick and Help Scout. I was sold immediately.

Nick was focused on the customer first. Help Scout has gotten this far by focusing on being humble and being helpful. I couldn’t think of two greater values to build a brand around. And when push comes to shove, I love that I will be able to make decisions based on whether or not what we’re about to do will be helpful for the customer, and done with humility. Those are aspirational values for me. I love that I’ll get practice at them professionally, every single day I go to work.

Legos. A perfect set of legos.

Tomorrow is July 1st. I couldn’t be more excited to join this new team. I feel like a high school line worker at Taco Bell joining Top Chef (I can say that because I was actually a high school line worker at Taco Bell.) All Stars all around me. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in front of us. And, perhaps most of all, I couldn’t be more excited to be myself and be confident in my ability to help all the amazing people who have brought Help Scout to this point, take it even farther.

Thank you, LiveIntent. For everything. Hello, Help Scout. Let’s do this.

 

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TYMMPB… | Embracing Kipling

BLOG--Jaan ChillingMy son. It’s amazing to say that. The my part is incomparable. The son part was one half of a win:win.

And winning is all it has felt like. One month ago today, and precisely one month ago from the moment I started writing this post (10:49), you were born to us. And you went straight to your mother’s chest where you spent quite a bit of time — and have spent quite a bit of time since. There’s no denying that you will be a momma’s boy. And as a momma’s boy myself, I can tell you, there’s no love like the love you’ll get from your mother.

When you’re old enough to read this, who knows when I’ll share it with you. You may feel slighted. For the first year of your older sister’s life, I wrote frequently. Because the time to do so existed. Such is not the case for you. With you. So instead I’ve decided to write you 12 letters, each on the monthly anniversary of your birth and into your first birthday.

Today, I start by telling you how proud you’ve made me already.

People define masculinity and manhood in very different ways. My definition as always run closest to how Rudyard Kipling encapsulated it in his poem, “If…” Especially the lines I’ve bolded below.

You have managed to make it through the month without being the least bit of hassle or burden. You sleep in the family room. That’s where you make your home. Sister running around the house. Visitors in and out the door. Sunlight through the windows. Pans clanging in the kitchen. TV sometimes on sometimes not. And yet, you go about your day unfazed and unbothered. Attributes that will serve you well.

You have managed to make us feel like great parents even with all the scrambling and distractions around us. You take solace in our arms and by our voices. You make your  mother’s arms your home. You make your sister’s voice your lullaby. You make your nani, dadi, and foi feel like they are absolute experts when it comes to baby whispering.

Don’t believe me? Check out how much your sister adores serenading you. 🙂

At one month, you’ve managed to do what no one month old can ever be expected to do: you’ve managed to enter the world with such fine humility, that even your birth is somehow about everyone else feeling good, valued, helpful, loved.

Today You Made Me Proud By … embracing the spirit of Kipling’s If. I promise to make you proud by learning from your humble lead.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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My $.02 | The Best of Other People Tributing Purple Rain

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about Prince. He has always been the consummate entertainer for me. It was never a contest. And what I love and admire about him is that he only became greater with time. As I grew older. As I gained the  ability to poke more and more holes in everyone else’s perfection, and as I became more and more perforated and imperfect myself. Prince … stayed perfect.

So much has been said about his music and his influence. All of it does justice to who he was. To minorities. To women. To musicians. To independent thinkers. To honest people. To those who fight everyday to make the alternative the mainstream. And ultimately, to those who just don’t give a damn.

He’s so much  more than Purple Rain. It’s not even my favorite Prince song. But I felt compelled to capture all the tributes to Purple Rain in one place. Here. Now. If for no other reason than to have it for myself.

These are not ranked. They can’t be. Try and rank them yourself. You’ll succeed. Until you go back and listen to them over again and re-rank everything.

Adam Levine – Purple Rain (for Howard Stern) – Calm down. Maroon 5 was special about 15 years ago (even a little prior.) Adam Levine has a unique voice, has some guitar skills. And if you leave this tribute not a fan, watch it again. Until you do. The fact that he did this several years ago is, IMHO, the ultimate tribute. It wasn’t a eulogy. It was a living tribute to a living legend. No nostalgia, just a superstar showing fandom for one of the greatest.

Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain (Barclay’s Center) – It’s outstanding to see this respect reciprocated. Prince considered Bruce to be one of the greatest stage leaders and frontmen ever. An individual with an amazing command of the audience and his band, who was able to evolve sets on stage with the wave of a hand and eye contact. Hearing The Boss pay his respects was beautiful because of the level of appreciation between the two of them, one that most probably never knew existed. I love Bruce’s voice at the most energetic moments of this song too. Chilling.

Damien Escobar – Purple Rain (Violin Cover) – Prince, more than any other musician around, spoke through his performances. His songs told amazing stories. His outfits told amazing stories. But most powerfully, his instruments (every single one he played) spoke to you. That’s what makes this song so powerful. That’s what makes Purple Rain so powerful. Try and separate the words from the music in your head. It’s hard. Which is why Damien Escobar’s inversion, applying the violin to Prince’s vocals, is so beautiful.

The Color Purple Cast – Purple Rain (Broadway) – Thank you Jennfer Hudson for making this happen. Thank you more for stepping back from the opening and turning it over to Cynthia Erivo. Jennifer Hudson oversings early, but she then closes strong. When you think about the timing of the book itself (The Color Purple came on the scene as Prince came into his own, timed perfectly in the early 80’s) and the message behind the book (few books took on sexism and racism as powerfully and vocally — and explicitly as The Color Purple), it makes sense that this cast did this legend justice. Because few musicians did more to combat racism and sexism with their actions, than the Purple One.

Kelly Clarkson – Purple Rain (Fan Request) – Wow. I forget how talented American Idol singers used to be. 🙂 This is beautiful and shows how diverse Prince’s reach is, and it shows how many options there are to make a song work across genres. It’s also a testament to Prince that the greatest song of the 80’s is androgynous, asexual, and pan-racial in its own right. Just like he. Is.

Jimmy Buffet – Purple Rain – Why? Because it’s Jimmy Buffet. The Guardian said it best: “Buffet is famed in the US for purveying the “island escapist” lifestyle to baby boomers. And for owning two restaurant chains named after his songs – Cheeseburger in Paradise and Margaritaville. A peformance of Purple Rain was probably the last thing his fans expected.”

The Waterboys –  Purple Rain (largely, beautifully, acoustic) – Perhaps the most unique version of this song I’ve heard. I learned early on that the power of a song shone through when you stripped it of its production, simplified the arrangement, and sand the heck out of it. This is, that version. Touches me as much as when I heard Springsteen do Born in the USA, acoustic, solo, under a spotlight, at MSG. Mostly because I never thought of this song as being sung this way.

I couldn’t embed the video so this is 2 for 1; click on the link above for a great in studio version, or the one below for an Opera House extended play version. I prefer the one above.

David Gilmour – Purple Rain (with Comfortably Numb) (<<CLICK LINK TO WATCH VIDEO) – Maybe I love the idea of Pink Floyd and Purple Rain because, as a color blind man, I have no idea if they match. But I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. When one of my uncles got his brand new Bose speakers — think of the old school 301’s – we broke them in by laying down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, and listening to ALL of The Wall. All of it. So when I caught wind of this, union of two songs with choruses that force me to sing at the top of my lungs (even when I’m not singing out loud, you’ll see my eye balls roll up into my head) I had to listen. And … it’s all I expected it to be. The transition in at the 4:30 mark is so subtle it shows you how well, well composed songs can be melded by beautiful musicians.

<No video embed. Please click on the link above.>

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TMLFYI… | Uniting Work and Life

I was asked to do this video for work. If they’re going to make me do something like this, I’m going to make it my own. And nothing is more my own, than you.

You steal the show.

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/4jpajcyxze

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TMLYFI… | “Never”

My magic. I’m inspired to share this moment with you. I promised myself that after year 1 I’d reduce what I posted out of fear of embarrassing you at some odd point down the line. Digital history from birth is still new to us, and is just becoming a point of debate. So I don’t want to do something you’ll regret.

But today, you made my life (let it be noted that on a daily basis, you tend to do this.) Yet, see, I haven’t seen you in three days. And my exposure has been limited. Partially because you are in Canada on an amazing trip with family. And partially because I am in NY working on work … that maybe I didn’t need to work so hard on.

Your extraordinary mom FaceTimed me this evening and what i saw when I accepted and the screen came to was you, head heavily rested on her shoulder, eyes, debating the world outside and the dreams inside. A hell of a debate, IMHO.

So I looked at you. I said your name. I kissed. I did everything in my power to get a response and you blinked, but nothing more. So I went to our ritual. The words I whisper to you every night since the day you were born. The words that showcase the ends of the earth I will run to for you. That close with the same word. Every single day for the past 18 months and 30 days.

That word? “Never”

And as I have done since you started acknowledging, I leave the last word for you to say. And you did.

With God (your mom) as my witness, you finished our exchange like you would had you have been on my shoulder right here in JC.

“Never.”

You said it. And I know,t hat you know, how much I know, that word means to me. The rest of the world will never know our exchange. But may the know now how it ends.

“Never.”

As in…when I will forget this moment. You are magical, my bbcc. A not so good day, turns into the greatest day ever.

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TMLFYI… | Wilder

As in Matthew.

Today you had the strangest dream. You sailed away to China, in a little rowboat to find us, and you said you had to get your laundry cleaned. Didn’t want no one to hold you, what does that mean, and you said…

Don’t worry, munchkin, we’re never gonna hold you back or break your stride. But you will have a curfew and you will obey the speed limit.

Note: I miss me some Marilyn McCoo and some Solid Gold like I miss the ability to eat PB&J and Grilled Cheese without regret.

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TMLFYI… | SMILES!

TSmiles2his is the most amazing picture I have ever seen. I don’t believe a more adorable picture has ever been taken. I’ve been to Hallmark. I’ve seen all the black and white greeting cards of children. And frankly, I think any picture on the front of one of those cards should be replaced with this.

Work hasn’t been easy. From a physical standpoint, I can say that even with the extraordinary support we’ve received in-person (especially from your Naniji and your Tita Fai), we’re a little more sleep deprived than usual. But when we see you like this, everything resets. Forget 5-hour energy … we should bottle your smile.

Looking at this picture was a life changing experience. Overwhelming. When your mom and I married, I made it my own personal challenge to make her happier day after day. Now I have another fundamental goal. Whenever we are lucky enough to bask in you being this happy, the world will cease to matter and everything will be ok. It will be like a reboot of The Matrix. Our job as parents is to help you get there as often as humanly possible.

Challenge issued. Challenge taken, munchkin. We’re on it.

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