Dear past me,
Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late. – the Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, as you well know. Each year is more like an evolution of who I am. It is taking stock of who I was against who I want to be. I looked back at your note to me and my how the more things change, the more they stay the same and sometimes feel late for my own future.
As you know, the year began with the beautiful prospect of changing the world as I undertook what I thought would be a major change in my career trajectory. Well, as it happened, the assumption I was headed in a new direction couldn’t be more true as I ended the year trying to track down a more permanent and stable career path in a full time job hunt. In between, I spent the better part of the year at a start-up not-for-profit that was trying to redefine social advocacy. It was a tremendously enjoyable endevour working with extremely passionate people who truly believed in the cause of social justice and equality for all. Sadly, passion isn’t enough in-and-of itself to run a company and despite the wonderful tools we created for the LGBT community and the praise we won from the NYTimes and others the funding wasn’t coming in quick enough because despite our attempts at pivoting to where the mission’s needs were we weren’t able to really present our full value. I learned a lot about myself as a business leader, a product manager and a person from the experience and was disappointed to be put in a position to have to move on. In many ways, I’m a better person for having been there but the next move well provide new growth experiences and challenges professionally.
School continued, though due to finances and time constraints I was forced to take a semester off in between the classes I previously started and where I ended up. The Agile Project Management class I did end up taking toward my PMP certification was infinitely useful both for my previous job and now during my current career search. It was challenging, not only for the class material itself, but almost more so for the way it was presented and how it was absorbed by my fellow class members. It made me realize how much I know about organizational management and how grateful I am for taking almost enough credits in it as a MBA to understand how to confront difficult group project situations. All in all, it was an amazing experience I would gladly do again.
Personal life took a number of interesting twists and turns. Some of which were not anticipated or expected. For starters, there was the mourning of family who passed this year. Losing loved ones is never easy. Losing them in quick succession is all that much more difficult. I will miss them all and know that their impact was more than the sum of the moments of thier life. On the flip side, I gained family as well in the way of in-laws. I love having new brother-in-laws as a part of my life and only wish I would have more time with them to enjoy what they have to offer my ever expanding family. It was beautiful to see both my sisters take that step. For myself, I also took a big step in my relationship too, which I am more than thankful I had the opportunity to take. It means more than I can express to be sitting here right now, in NYC, writing this. Yes, the jerzey kid left the dirty jerz. That, in-and-of itself was pretty huge but how I got here was pretty amazing too and that’s why it’s so awesome, even if it also did mean selling my beloved Subaru.
So, all that change and upheaval… and I’m smiling? Yeah, I am and in many ways I did exactly what I said I would: I grew as a person on a number of levels, I tried something new and unanticpated, I continued with my education and even traveled a little (more coming!). Why wouldn’t I be smiling, with all I wish I could have, I’m also exceedingly grateful and thankful for what I have and who I have to share it with.
Oh, and PS, mail this to Future me too…
Hey, Future Me,
I fully expect you to have keep your head high. Unemployment isn’t unfamiliar territory and every career goes through a bout of it every now-and-again and it was through no fault of your own. I just hope you remember what you accomplished in the year getting to that point as you developed strategies and set out a roadmap for a peer-to-peer accountability product, defined the scope, feature sets and user experience with wire frames, flow charts and related documentation. You used hybrid agile project management skills to oversee the development cycle from concepting through optimization working with designers, front-end programmers, back-end developers and external resources for servers, databases, etc. You managed product life-cycles by undertaking user and A/B testing, addressing marketing and legal requirements, c-level executive expectations and financial constraints to produce critically noted and effective social advocacy products. You also provided marketing direction and participated in initiatives driven by social interaction built into the product experience in order to execute viral distribution and exponentially expansive adoption of a target social advocacy product. This is a unique skill set centered around a very cool product. You can and will leverage this experience in order to design and develop something new and exciting for the future, since there are so many interesting things you can do with the background you have that spans marketing strategy and management, product development and management, project management and organizational management at agencies, start-ups and big corps in entertainment, telecommunications and not-for-profits. Who knows what’s next if you keep pushing your boundries and leveraging your diverse knowledge as a positive. I hope you’ve found whatever that is and shone at it as I know you can
As for that knowledge, don’t forget to continue educating yourself, as there’s always more that you can know. I hope you didn’t lose sight of the fact it isn’t just what you know, but what you know how to find. Kept using TED and Twitter, LinkedIn and those 50+ newsletters you get to your in-box daily to point you in the right direction (maybe found a few new apps for them too)… and didn’t lose more time on your PMP as beyond what the curriculum offers you always take so much more from the classes than just the syllabus says. The opportunity to learn is a lifelong process, don’t ever stop challenging yourself with it and I hope you’re looking back way smarter than now.
And, I hope you kept challenging yourself in other ways too. Took what you’ve been given with photography and expand upon it, even if you only shoot for yourself there’s a whole wide world that needs documenting outside of the NYC metropolis so get out there and shoot it. Maybe, pick up those drum sticks on a more regular basis too. Granted, apartment living isn’t conducive to the instrument but stopped using that as an excuse for not challenging that growth, even if percussion isn’t your first artistic love any more, it shouldn’t be relegated to your last at this point. And, on that note, didn’t forget to keep posting your food creations on the blog (because I know I’m slacking on it right now). You know that your most viewed posts are about food, so you better make more of them!
Finally, I hope you’ve taken your personal emotional growth and development seriously too. I may not know what lies ahead in your relationship (hopefully further bonding and union), with your family (nieces or nephews, even if they’re just more animals 🙂 – and no passings!), with your friends (you better have spent more time cultivating those relationships and made a few new ones) and so on, but what I do know is I hope you look back with no regrets, with pride for what you saw the people around you accomplish and excitement for your own future. You have so much to offer, so much to experience and so much to… well, that’s not appropriate for the blog… so don’t let me down in making sure that this part of your life isn’t neglected, because, everything else can be replaced, dealt with or otherwise taken care of, but if you don’t have this you truly have nothing.
And, on that note (sorry for the threats) I bid you best wishes future me, I hope you look back on this as positive as current me looks back at past me’s note from last year. I think there’s so much potential in your life and I hope you’re still smiling and quoting the Beatles evermore… don’t be late for your own future!