Monday, August 18, 2014

Semenuk Winning Run - Crankworx Whistler

This kid has so much talent!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Working Life

Funny how we have multiple lives... Your home life, your working life, training life (in my case), and more. Each life we live comes with idiosyncrasies that we learn and hone over time. Your working life is wholly different than just about any of them, as we surrender to the man :) But I've found, with the working life that we also escape. We become a different person with our working teams, or colleagues. In some cases, we become our best self. We are stronger, faster and fitter. We excel at work. By contrast, we can be little shits at home. What is it about the different hats we all wear and the modal we get into? Was this an evolutionary thing or what?

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Training Life

Only a few truly live a life dedicated to the pursuit of a mission. I'd argue that the lack of purpose or passion is 100% why Americans suffer from depression and a loss of their own power. As for me, I choose to live the training life: a life dedicated to the outdoors and reaching my personal physical (and I'd argue mental) goals. I've given up a lot (and it hurt like hell) to choose this life. I've been afraid, lonely, worried, confused and beaten back by my passion. My back has hurt, I've bled and watched doctors apply braces and stitches to keep me together. But it is all worth it to mountain bike through some of the most amazing parts of this country (and now Canada). I've seen the moon rise over the last climb of the day at City of Rocks Idaho. I've had beers with climbing partners over a campfire. I've seen so much, and these memories are why I do what I do. I love this lifestyle, and won't change it!

This post really isn't about me, or my lifestyle (although it may seems so). This post is about what lifestyle you want to live. We all have a choice! So you should choose what purpose you feel is most important to you! Life that dream, and let nothing get in your way!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Another Rant On The Dirtbag Lifestyle, What's Up?

Who isn't in awe of those that fully commit to a lifestyle? Someone who abandons the materialistic reality that captures so many of us. A soulful person that fully devotes their life to the pursuit of a vision, a goal and a mission. To many, in the climbing world, that desire is climbing. We call this person the Dirtbag climber. A special type of breed who proves that lifestyle matters above all else, and that climbing is that lifestyle. These rough and uncombed climbers life out of their cars or van and do anything to pursue ascents on rock and to join in the community of fellow climbers who share their focus. However, after traveling this summer and meeting some of these Dirtbags, I realized something - the Dirtbag lifestyle is dying, or close to it.

There is a rich history of the Dirtbaggers in the sport of climbing (and so to with Mountain biking, although not nearly as rich). Climbing magazine Dirtbag climber and writer, Cedar Wright, wrote a great piece on the dwindling lifestyle. It was almost sad to think of the loss of such a colorful community. I mean how else would the classics get done without Dirtbaggers? Some of the first ascents can only be done with maniacal focus. Days and days can be spent on a wall, and it takes months to even plan for some ascents. What fascinates me about this culture is how similar it is to the start-up world. To get a product to market, one has to have unshakeable focus and determination. As an entrepreneur, you're the only one holding the timelines and goals. It is a lifestyle choice!

I believe we should encourage this kind of climber, or outdoor entrepreneur and foster their goals. We should give them parking lots to camp in their cars, so they can be close to their objectives. We should stop with the ranger or police hassle. We should remember that only with sheer commitment does anything get done, and these Dirtbaggers aren't their to ruin your scenery, but to open it up!

So here's to the Dirtbaggers! Next time you see one, give them props or even a few dollars!  

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Where To Next?

Funny how many crossroads we face in our professional and personal lives. Should we go left or right? What about this job or the other? Freeride or cross country MTB ride? This town or that town? Chocolate or Vanilla? Run or hike? Sleep or stay up? This spreadsheet or that? Think about how many decision trees you face on a daily basis. What's even more amazing is how we have the ability to choose to react to circumstances, and that those decisions can wildly impact our lives. For example, you can let a decision haunt you for the rest of your life, or not. The journey we take on our own is what makes life so wild. But there is one phrase that captures the essence of decisions (in my opinion) above all else. One that has a sense of adventure and travel associated with it. And each time you ask that question, you're about to face a new adventure... And the phrase is "where to next" or "what's next".

When I think of this phrase I'm struck with the sheer power of it. How many times have I been in my truck looking at the open desert road, asking myself this question. How many times have I been in an actual crossroad in the high country and wondered, "what will happen next, if I go down this road". As I'm writing this, I'm even getting excited about possibilities. Life is all about "what's next" or "where to next". Let's embrace next like never before, and try going there, again and again. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Remote-Workers... Do You Think You Deserve A Vacation?

There is this new concept of unlimited vacations that many tech start-ups and established businesses are taking advantage of. The concept is really simple: as long as your work is done, and/or you are covered, you're free to take off! Simple, right?

We are still working, even when we are off... 

Well the truth will come as we see people taking advantage of it, and according to some research, workers are taking even less time. However, should we be so proud of this? Yes? No? Maybe? The fact is that Americans spend less time on holiday than just about any industrialized country. The result: more stress, less innovation and family time (great article that talks about the vanishing American vacation) that has been crushed by the guilt of not working. Or, one could argue that the hard work we're so accustomed to is helping the tribe be more successful, and that general productivity growth raises all ships. Whatever the case, this is an opinion blog, so here goes.

My general thought about vacations center on a 20% rule (and this can be role-dependent). For example, the sales and marketing team should never sleep. Unless your company has all the business it could ever need, sales must go on. The same goes for developers. If the product isn't finished, should you be free to totally unplug? Furthermore, with internet almost ubiquitous, is it really that hard to check in? Likely, you're happy to look at what's happening on Facebook, so why not check email quickly? There is a heavy counter to my argument, and I don't disagree that we should all try to unplug. And I do believe that employers should be really mindful about employee stress levels and moral. But if you're a start-up, then the show must go on.

All this said, should there be a hybrid approach? Should vacations be more about slack time than full-time off? Should employers make sure the work/life balance is in check in lieu of vacation time? To me, it is all about balance. If, personally, you are getting the breaks you need, then take 60% off. If you're not getting in the breaks you need then you might need to work on efficiency gains, or take a full 100% off so you don't burn out! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Defense Of The Remote-Worker, And Why Offices Don't Work

The right investments matter in the business world - people, software, systems, processes. The wrong investment can make or break how fast you win or lose. However, with all the good investments out there, is the office the right one? Is a building/rent/lease/office-chairs-for-everyone one of the best choices to launch your product or service? I'm speaking about the tech world here, and in some cases it is. But in most cases, it isn't. This post is a defense of the remote worker (and if you don't want to read my rant, by all means watch the TEDTalk by Jason Fried, creator of Basecamp - 37Signals).

Having worked for mostly tech start-ups in my career, I've had the special privilege of working with the passionate, immensely-dedicated and powerfully intelligent. Start-up people are as special type. They don't quit, until they are forced to! I love it! With all that energy, ego and effort, can you imagine them being crammed in the office? Pizza-Friday would be total nightmare! The best start-ups I've worked with haven't invested wholly in an office, but offered a remote-working setting whereby the culture was built with trust and dedication to delivering the product. And I believe this is the best path for a start up. But what about beyond the start up?

One can make the argument for a remote-worker environment in the corporate world too. For starters, let's talk about talent. For tech leads as well as sales (key positions), talent matters most. Is it important to have the leash on your VP of Architecture, or would you rather hire a stud in Oklahoma City while keeping your HQ in Zion, UT (I mean, are there really a lot of chief technology architects in Zion? Maybe, but maybe not). Do you think this tech lead would want to move away from her family? Probably not. Do you think, if you made this request, they would move anyway? Yes, for 5x more the pay! So now you've lost money hiring this tech stud in Oklahoma, as she is now the most highly paid employee. Furthermore, she's pissed because she had to leave her family - there goes the productivity!

Next, there was a reason the movie Office Space was so funny! Just like Fried explains above, Managers and Meetings don't mix with Productivity and Success! An office just exacerbates politics and idea-conflict (something I plan to write about next). cramming people into a space doesn't make them instantly smarter and more capable. Instead, I'd argue for an open environment where the office IS a resource, not a burden. The office IS a place where people connect. The office IS a place where people can grow ideas. The office IS NOT a place where you go to work. The office IS NOT a place where you hate to go. The office IS NOT your headquarters and the brand. People are, and so is the product - invest there!

If you're in manufacturing, service or hospitality an office is worthy (although those landscapes are changing too with the peer-to-peer economy). I'm not saying that an office is always a bad idea, but one that needs to be carefully considered. An office investment needs to be about something different, something important. It shouldn't be a symbol of excellence, but an environment where people create excellence. If that was the culture of our office spaces, there would be an Office Space part II, but with a positive spin on the case of the Mondays