25 Things

  1. I love all green vegetables except peas. 
  2. I own a very large male cat. His name is Crash and, no, you can’t have him.
  3. I’ve participated in a (recreational) sailboat race. 
  4. I’ve been to Thailand twice.
  5. I have one full sleeve tattoo and one 2/3 sleeve tattoo. One is all machine (gun) and the other was all done with bamboo (hand pump).
  6. I’ve lived in California, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Michigan.
  7. I used to dream of being a fighter pilot. Instead, I code websites and my cousin Gino is a Top Gun pilot in the Navy.
  8. I was in a fraternity in college. Not only was I IFC President, but I was also my chapter President, Chapter President of the Year, Greek Man of the Year, and a Harvey C. Dent Man of the Year finalist for Sigma Tau Gamma. This amuses my West Coast friends to no end.
  9. My mom, a hairdresser, cut my hair until I left for college with the single exception of a flat top I got in elementary school.
  10. I’ve had two major surgeries as a result of sport-related injuries: ACL reconstruction on my right knee and back surgery to alleviate a herniated disc.
  11. My first pet was a dog named Daisy. 
  12. I’ve been snowboarding for about 12 or 13 years now. My first board was a unidirectional K2 board. 
  13. My degree is actually a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. This drastically reduces my geek credentials in the eyes of some of my peers.
  14. I do not own a TV and have not for many years now. I don’t have cable either. Nor any sort of gaming platform (unless my MacBook Pro or iPhone counts).
  15. I’ve participated in three triathlons (two sprints and one Olympic).
  16. I’ve never written a large production application in anything other than PHP to date. This will change in the next few months when my first Python+Django project launches.
  17. I’ve spoken at many conferences you’ve never heard of, including one in front of over 1,000 people. Doing so does not bother me.
  18. I have a fetish for bikes.
  19. I still chat with my high school sweetheart, one of my college girlfriends and my ex-wife regularly. I consider them some of my closest confidants and friends.
  20. I have a little brother that looks so much like me that my fraternity brothers called him “Mini Me” and he’d get stopped on campus by people asking, “Are you Joe Stump’s little brother?”
  21. I have good friends I’ve never met in person. This doesn’t mean they’re not good friends though. 
  22. I brush my teeth in the shower.
  23. I wish I had the time and/or skills to learn to play the guitar. 
  24. Despite taking years of Spanish classes and conversational Spanish courses I’m horrible at speaking it, but can follow conversations and am decent and deciphering written text.
  25. I greatly dislike the color red.

Teens in Tech Conference

Today I went to watch Digg’s two resident proteges, Danny Trinh and Jeff Hodsdon, give presentations at the Teens in Tech Conference, which was put together by Daniel Brusilovsky. The conference was full of youthful enthusiasm and, overall, a hilarious and fun event for teenagers by teenagers.

After Daniel and Sam Levin had given the opening introduction, Jessica Mah gave a presentation on being a teenage entrepreneur. After she and Danny Trinh had finished their keynotes I tweeted out some rather blunt criticisms of Jessica’s keynote. Unfortunately, I couldn’t elaborate on why I thought that way in the 140 characters that Twitter gives me so I thought I’d elaborate in a blog post.

  • The main crux of her talk was that you should ignore your teenage obligations (school, homework, etc.) to pursue being an entrepreneur. Jessica Mah is a rock star amongst teenage tech nerds and, in my opinion, is being irresponsible as a role model by saying, basically, “Fuck school! Build stuff!” Even more perplexing, is that, despite this being her overwhelming advice, she’s currently a junior at UC Berkeley.
  • She mentioned a story where she was basically brushing off customers for one of her companies in favor of playing video games. How is horrible customer service a good idea?
  • Mah kept making the point that procrastinating makes you awesome. I’m fairly sure that my good friends Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk would disagree with this point. You’ve got to, as Gary says so eloquently, “Hustle your face off.” if you want to succeed. 
  • She kept saying that being ignorant was a good thing. I think her point was that they have naivety and youthful enthusiasm on their side, which they do. Ignorance, on the other hand, tends to, by definition, mean a willful lack of knowledge.

Contrast her talk with Danny Trinh’s hilarious “The Milk & The Cookies” talk. Danny talked about personal maturity (The Milk), which is something you can’t fake and professional maturity (The Cookies) which you get to choose and enhances your personal maturity.  

One of the points that I love that Danny made was that, “You’re not the best.” There’s a fine line between youthful enthusiasm and arrogance. A line I’ve fought with myself. To this day, despite my many successes, I’m not the best at anything. I’m a great PHP coder, a good systems engineer, and a horrible dancer. Danny’s suggestion, which I agree with 100%, is to surround yourself with the best to raise your game. All you can really do is continue to push yourself. 

That’s the lesson that the teenagers at Teens in Tech should walk away with, if nothing else.