Thursday, June 29, 2006

8 Songs about California

I picked my vacation. As expected, Southern California won based on its proximity, ease of travel, and list of people to visit. I'm going to rent a car and cruise around, so-cal style. Agenda items include meeting up with some friends for a movie or something, maybe going to Santa Barbara for a party, and going down to San Diego. And maybe I'll sneak into the Yahoo office using one of my old business cards and a convincing story.

Who wants to hang out? What should I do down there?

Here is a list of my favorite songs about California, all of which I will listen to in my rental car. Add suggestions in the comments.
  1. "California Stars" by Wilco & Woodie Guthrie
  2. "California" by Rufus Wainright
  3. "Piazza, New York Catcher" by Belle & Sebastian
  4. "California Dreamin" by The Mommas & The Papas
  5. "California" by Joni Mitchell
  6. "California Uber Alles" by The Dead Kennedys
  7. "Californication" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. "California Girls" by The Beach Boys
And here are some specifically about LA:
  1. "Drinking in LA" by Bran Van 3000
  2. "L.A" by Elliot Smith
  3. "April 29, 1992" by Sublime
  4. "Born in East LA" by Cheech Marin
And some facts I learned while researching this post:
  1. There are at least 90 songs called "California"
  2. Wikipedia has a list of songs about California
  3. Wikipedia also has a list of lists of songs

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

8 ways to have a good meeting

Most of my posts work-related posts have been about scamming your way to success. This one is slightly different, and the first in a series of posts on meetings in a sort of followup to my #1 post of all time, 8 Types of Meeting Attendees. The goal here is to get everyone to be a #8, "The productive, reasonable contributor."
  1. Have a goal.
    I don't think agendas actually work, but the meeting will be much better if everyone agrees on the goals at the beginning. If you don't have any specific goals you should just go out for drinks.

  2. Have a leader.
    One person should be in control of the meeting and decide what gets talked about. When that person says "let's move on" everyone should say ok and move on.

  3. Listen more than you talk.
    If everyone does this the meeting will probably be productive. If one person talks the whole time it's a presentation, which is different. When everyone is listening at once and no one is talking you can end the meeting.

  4. Let people finish their thought.
    When smart people talk they say unexpected things. You probably don't know what your colleague is going to say, so listen to the whole thing. If they say exactly what you expected then you wasted a few minutes, which is much better than making someone hate you.

  5. Don't interrupt.
    Don't talk when someone else is talking. When you *do* talk people will listen much more closely. This is really hard, but when it works the meeting is extremely friendly and relaxed.

  6. Never ever roll your eyes.
    If someone you work with makes you roll your eyes you should quit your job. Or try to have them fired. According to the pop-psychology book Blink the rolling of eyes is a sign of contempt, which is the worst emotion for any relationship.

  7. Speak slowly.
    This will relax you and everyone else.

  8. End it when it's over.
    At Vodafone we would have specification walkthroughs, in which someone would read an entire 50 page document to 10 people. They were often scheduled for two and a half hours. At some point, when people were sleeping, emailing, chatting with each other, someone would say "ok, lets just get through this." This is the death point of the meeting. Nobody was paying attention or contributing. The meeting was over, but nobody had the guts to kill it. They wanted to keep reading because they were supposed to keep reading. Kill it when it's dead.

Monday, June 19, 2006

8 Ways I met people with whom I later had a significant business relationship

I think it's fun to trace back significant events/people in my life and see how random or inevitable things were. Here are 8 ways I met people with whom I later had a significant business relationship, in rough reverse chronological order.
  1. Waiting in line for mix drinks at SXSW.
    I met Leslie, the newest Rubyred team member (welcome to SF, Leslie!) in line for drinks at a very late party at South by Southwest, just a few minutes after I offended all of Austin at an open mic event. I was more than a little drunk and thought it was fun to ask people interview questions instead of party questions, and her answers were actually pretty good.

  2. At a fake product launch party. I met Cameron, a long time Rubyred team member (6 months!) at the fake launch party for a fake company called

  3. Through my friend Shawn.
    I met Patrick (and dozens of other people) at Vodafone when my friend Shawn asked me to come in for a short design contract. I stayed at Vodafone for about 3 years and got to travel a lot and meet some great Europeans.

  4. Through my former-manager Patrick.
    Patrick contacted me when he went to Yahoo after leaving Vodafone. I went to Yahoo and stayed for a few years. Shawn also recommended me for the Yahoo job, making him partly responsible for the 2 jobs that established my career. (Shawn eventually went to Razorfish, where he helped bring on my friends Rebecca and Lizzie, and is now at Organic.)

  5. Through my sister's friend Rebecca.
    When I moved to SF my sister Flora was working at with Rebecca, who helped me with my resume and introduced me to Thor. I worked with Thor at Trapezo and, on my second day there, I went to his house to watch the ill-fated 2000 presidential election results. There I met his wife Amy. Thor and Amy are now my partners in Rubyred.

  6. Through my dad's cousin Tony, and his business partner James.
    I met Shawn when we both started working for Tony & James around 1997 near Philadelphia. I also worked with Ted there, who is now at Rubyred.

  7. Through the guy in charge of my college dorm, Brian.
    I somehow impressed Brian in my first week at college, and he recommended me for a job with my dad's cousin Tony, who I had never met before.

  8. Through my sister Flora's friend Christi.
    Flora told her friend Christi how I was smarter than other high-school students, and Christi introduced me to her boyfriend Chipp, who owned a company called Human Code, which later sold to Sapient. Chipp gave me a summer job the day after my high school graduation, and gave me a good reference when I went to work for Tony & James.
Is there a point to all this? Lets find a point.

Point 1:
Having a few strong advocates can make a huge difference in your career. My sister Flora introduced me to some of the people who had huge effects on my life, and she isn't especially connected in my industry. She just constantly talks about how great I am, and some of the people she talks to turn out to be great business contacts.

Point 2:
You can run into great people anywhere. Don't spend all your time scheming for business contacts like a smarmy salesman, but just because someone is a sloshy drunk bothering people at a bar doesn't mean they're not also a brilliant engineer or marketing genius. I like to force people into uncomfortable conversations about their life motivations as soon as I meet them, thus eliminating boring shallow people quickly.

Point 3:
Business relationships last a long time. I'm barely 10 years into my career, and I expect to keep interacting with these same people for the next 20-30 years. When hiring or recommending people I always prefer those I've worked with in the past.

Side note: I think the worst thing you can ever do is personally insult someone. If you're lazy or you fail to deliver people might forget after a few years, but if you personally insult someone they'll remember forever. If that person happens to be well connected, or has a blog, their negative impression of you can effect you for many years.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

8 Great things that will happen this friday

Here are 8 Great things that will happen this Friday, June 16 2006. Most of them will happen in San Francisco, CA, USA, though some of them are placeless and will happen everywhere at once.
  1. Jonathan, the author of this blog, will turn 27 years old. I know, I seem older, I have gray hair, I'm way to wise to be so youthful, etc etc. I hid my age for a long time, pretending to be older than I was, and I think 27 is a good age to stop doing that and lay it all out there. It is worth noting that I was born in the 1970's, not the 1980's, and that Carter was still president.

  2. We will celebrate my birthday by gathering at 8pm at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia street. Eileen, from her infinite well of generousity, has invited us to grace her fine establishment for evening coffee. I didn't really want to have a party, but when Eileen mentioned this idea it suddenly sounded fun and I couldn't resist. I really just wanted to sit around the cafe all day anyway.

  3. Eileen (and others?) will attempt to make Spanish Coffee which (like all the good things in life) involves coffee, booze, sugar, and fire.

  4. I will unveil a new art piece. It is the much anticipated Religious Monkey, and it's been in a half-finished state for a while now. Hanging the monkey will technically make this an art opening, giving us permission to force paying customers to move out of the way so we can drink and be loud.

  5. When we start to annoy the paying customers & staff too much we will leave for a nearby bar or houseparty or something. I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up at the Latin American Club, Amnesia, or the Lone Palm, all of which are within a couple blocks. We'll leave a note.

  6. I might be in a terrible mood. I don't much care for holidays, and birthdays almost count as holidays.
    Two things I don't like about birthday parties:
    a) RSVP's. Please don't tell me whether or not you'll be attending. For some reason RSVP's annoy the shit out of me. I'll try to use my 27th year to get over this problem, but for now it's safer to avoid the issue and just show up or not.
    b) singing of the "Happy Birthday" song. I know the whole purpose of a song is to make the birthday person miserable, and I know people will probably do it even though (or because) I hate it, but I'd really prefer if everyone would sing a different song. Anything by Bowie or The White Stripes would be great.

  7. There might be an earthquake. This is always a possibility in our fair city, but someone I was talking to outside the coffee shop swears it's going to happen this week. Consider yourselves warned. I'm going to wear a helmet.

  8. Nacho Libre will premier in theaters. If all goes well, I will be in the 4:40pm show at the Metreon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

8 ways to be an arrogant prick

I've been neglecting this blog a little, since I can now post to the Valleyschwag Chronicles and get 150 comments, which is bloth flattering and overwhelming. Since I do my best writing when I'm tired and overworked, I'll write a little piece right now. (This may be a re-tread of some old post. I often worry that I'm repeating myself on my blog, but I'm probably contradicting myself too, so it evens out.)

This one is a set of tips that you should not follow. Do your best to not do these things. They're anti-tips.

Here are 8 ways to be an arrogant prick. I think I've done all of these things, and I hope I never do them again.
  1. Talk about how rich you are.
    Look, everyone already knows how rich you are. Shut up and drink your latte.

  2. Drop names to show how important you are.
    I don't care if you went to camp with the guy or whatever. If you were really that important he'd be dropping your name.

  3. Tell people they should be more active in politics / social change / linux.

I just got tired of that list. It was depressing. I'm going to switch to a new topic.

Here are my favorite kinds of light bulbs:
  1. Incandescent clear bulb with chrome finish on half the bulb. This is a rare bulb that can be put to great use

  2. Blue LED. I know an LED isn't actually a light bulb, but I think it should count anyway.

  3. Flourescent Black light. These are overused in clubs but it is because they rock so hard. They are magical, and can make things appear where nothing was visible before.

  4. Flickering candle lights. These are cool innovative lights that have two plates instead of a coil, and the movement of the plates makes this light flicker. I've seen some plates that are the shape of a candle flame and others that are the shape of the virgin mary.

  5. A pickle with electricity flowing through it. This is actually possible, as you may remember from 6th grade science class. It glows green.