I love everything this video reveals about this man, his vision, his spirit, his work in the world… Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr, please take my money!
You will not get a degree
You will not go into extraordinary debt
You will print all day, every day
You will clean type
Wipe up ink
Smell the scent of grinding heavy metal night and day
You will not move back in with your parents
Nor struggle to have a quote/unquote “career”
You can give him money too, via his latest IndieGoGo campaign. Hat tip to Austin Kleon for alerting me (and thousands of other e-newsletter subscribers) to the existence of this inspirational being!
If a contribution isn’t in your budget right now, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr offers an alternative to “join[ing] the growing movement of people who are taking control of their own damn lives.”
May we all find our own version of The Printery, which is, as Amos describes,
another path, a community that will assist you in achieving your dreams.
Not someone else’s dreams; YOUR dreams.
On the 20th of February, I got an email from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) informing me that they’d approved our application to become permanent residents. I’m super relieved as this was kind of hanging over us for a while, even though there was very little chance that it would not work out in our favor.
Here’s what permanent residency means for us [I’m not an immigration consultant blah blah legal disclaimer check INZ’s website for the latest and greatest info]:
- We can now vote;
- Our continued existence here is no longer tied to my current job (not that I’m interested in quitting, it’s just nice to know I’m not stuck if it ever ceases to be a good fit);
- I can now do jobs on the side (this wasn’t permitted on my specific work visa)
- We can get credit cards (not to carry a balance, but to get cash back on all our purchases!);
- We can buy a house (not that we can currently afford any houses we’d want to live in, it’s just that the new government here recently passed a law that foreigners cannot buy existing houses, only build new ones… and even before that law changed, banks wouldn’t give us a mortgage unless we were residents anyway);
- We can go to school (we weren’t allowed to study for more than 3 months on our work visas before)…
- …at local tuition rates (which are ~1/3 of the rates for foreigners, this number varies a lot depending on which program and which university);
- We qualify for KiwiSaver, NZ’s retirement plan (employers are required by law to match employee contributions up to 3% for employees who opt into the KiwiSaver plan, so I’m signing up right away. And yes, if you leave the country you get to take your KiwiSaver funds with you); and
- We’re pretty sure Scott’s existence here is no longer tied to our relationship… though we have no plans to test that out 🙂
The “permanent” part of our residency means that we can Continue reading “We are now officially permanent residents of New Zealand + some thoughts on global mobility”
I wanted to start this story by stating that I didn’t have any interest in attending Stanford University in the first place, but that can’t be true. Why else would I have been there, surrounded by fellow students in a room much too small for the number of us who showed up to… to what? Impress? Ask questions of? Suss out? the guy Stanford sent to woo us into attending his esteemed educational institution.
This particular representative wore a suffocating air of self-importance along with his beard and tweed sport coat, and I quickly determined that I had made a poor decision by attending the meeting. “It wouldn’t be fair to compare our weather to that of other universities,” he humble-bragged at one point, ”but we do get approximately 300 days of sunshine a year.” I remember wondering: does it make it better or worse that he’s aware of how ridiculous he sounds?
But I perked right up when he asked, “Does anyone know what’s next door to the Monterey Bay Aquarium?”
I had recently been inside the building next door, lovely from the outside with its ancient wooden siding, the inside packed with dusty jars and odd specimens. The man who once used this lab was nothing short of a hero in my budding-scientist eyes. I’d read John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez for California Natural History, which chronicles Steinbeck’s adventures with the larger-than-life character; the first seventy pages of the book is a moving eulogy to a man who clearly made an impression on everyone who knew him.
In other words, I knew the answer to this one.
“Ed Ricketts’ lab!” I blurted, relieved that the conversation might finally going in a direction that interested me.
I fail to remember what response Mr. Self Important was looking for. He probably didn’t expect one at all, so comfortable was he in his mansplainer’s role, though that term wouldn’t be coined for another fourteen years. But I will never forget what he proceeded to say to me, or the derisive tone with which he dismissed me, my hero, and any desire I may ever have had to associate with Stanford University:
“Ed Ricketts was a fictional character.” Continue reading “Why I didn’t go to Stanford”
A ritual often performed at the Auckland Buddhist Centre includes the following lines:
My personality throughout my existences…
I give up without regard to myself
For the benefit of all beings.
I’ve been thinking about my various existences because the company I work for just published a really useful resource, A guide to financing your business.
The content is top notch, it’s beautifully laid out and illustrated, the writing is clear, the whole thing flows well, and it’s easy to navigate. While it doesn’t really take a stand on the ethics or of any of the options and I’d have loved to see some case studies, it’s far more complete than I was expecting, and I’m really impressed!
And I had absolutely nothing to do with its creation, which feels incredibly strange. I was legitimately obsessed with this topic — my expertise in that rapidly-evolving field paid my bills, I got a massive grant to write a book about it — for more than a decade. I can’t pinpoint exactly when that particular obsession ended, but it’s been a HUGE relief to let go of the need to stay on top of the latest crowdfunding legislation or alternative lending innovations or who’s launching what new community investing fund… thankfully, we’ve got people like Jenny Kassan and Amy Cortese all over those 🙂
This shift in my attention makes me think of all the different identities I’ve embraced and then drifted away from over the years: Continue reading “My personality throughout my existences (and a new guide to business financing!)”
As of this week, I officially work Tuesdays through Fridays. Standard eight-hour days, but only four of them. Every weekend is now a three-day weekend, and I am thrilled!
This wasn’t a decision that I took lightly, and the process revealed a few surprises. It took several months from the time I started thinking about it to actually make a formal request, and a couple more months for it to be made official. Here’s some of what I learned over the course of those months (about myself, about my relationship, and about The System), and what it took to make it happen. I’m writing this all out in hopes that it might serve as inspiration for anyone else who is thinking of reducing their working hours, and also provide some perspective that’s a little deeper than what can be conveyed in a headline.
The company I work for was not the barrier. Xero has verrrrrry flexible policies when it comes to working hours. They even have a series of internal publications showcasing people’s flexible work arrangements. People have reduced their hours for reasons as varied as wanting to avoid rush-hour traffic, to wanting to spend more time with their kids (temporarily or permanently), to training for and representing their country at international sporting events. (We’re hiring, wanna move to New Zealand?! Or Singapore or Melbourne or Denver or…? Let me know if there’s a role you’re interested in and I can send you the internal referral link!)
Benefits weren’t a factor. Everyone who lives in New Zealand, either permanently or on a visa that’s longer than 24 months, is covered by the national health care system, and all other benefits (vacation, sick time) would be prorated according to my new schedule.
I worried a bit about letting my team down, but the truth of the matter is that my working fewer hours would bring our workflows into much better alignment, as the person who does a lot of the post-production on the videos we make together is also on a four-day schedule! Without exception, everyone on my team cheered me on as soon as I told them what I was hoping to do.
My partner wasn’t holding things back, either. Quite the opposite, Scott’s been encouraging me to reduce my working hours for ages. Continue reading “Every weekend can be a three-day weekend: my journey to a four-day work week”
Tonight I’m thinking about the crystal shop in Paolo Coelho’s book The Alchemist. It’s been over twenty years since I read the copy I “borrowed” from my cousin Matthew (!!!) so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but here’s what I remember: the protagonist is on his journey (the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth), and at some point he ends up asking a crystal merchant for a job.
It turns out he’s pretty good at selling crystals. Not only that, but he ends up coming up with all sorts of excellent business ideas, and things are going great.
…except that our hero didn’t set out from home to do a great job selling crystals. If anything, hanging out with the crystal merchant has made him a bit complacent, and the reader wonders if he’s completely lost sight of his goal.
At one point the protagonist is trying to figure out why his boss, who keeps talking about his big dream of going to Mecca, isn’t doing anything that would help him actually get there:
“Well, why don’t you go to Mecca now?” asked the boy. “Because it’s the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive. That’s what helps me face these days that are all the same, these mute crystals on the shelves, and lunch and dinner at that same horrible café. I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.”
Of course you want to just shake the guy: “What are you waiting for?! You’re not getting any younger, Mecca isn’t going to come to you!”
But you can’t very well judge, because you know that you’ve been in that exact place yourself. Continue reading “What’s your crystal shop? A lesson from The Alchemist”
You might have seen these books: If the Buddha Dated, If the Buddha Married? I loved the section in If the Buddha Dated on writing a dating profile that might attract an appropriate mate. Author Charlotte Kasl takes the reader through the various versions that you might write, starting with one that’s basically a laundry list of all the qualities you are seeking in your would-be partner. As she continues, the profiles get a little more “enlightened” and more and more interesting, and you start realizing that perhaps describing your values, and asking questions, might be more effective than presenting an impossible checklist of criteria and scenarios that might not ultimately lead to a mutually-fulfilling relationship, anyway.
The final sample profile simply reads,
Who are you? Who am I?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this because it’s now been exactly 27 days since I was asked to write a bio for the Order members of my Buddhist community, or sangha, as Buddhist communities are known.
Now I am nothing if not a writer, and I have no problem writing bios; I’ve written gobs of them. Bios for online dating profiles (at least four different ones I am sure about, and probably more, all partially inspired by Charlotte Kasl, if decidedly more verbose). Bios for speaking gig programs. Bios for job applications, for teaching yoga, for the inside of my book, for websites, for fellowship directories, for high school and grad school alumni journals. 20 word bios. 120 word bios. 250 word bios, one-pagers. The list goes on and on.
So why is this one stumping me?!
The thought process goes something like this: “I’d better do this one properly. Wait, no, I’d better make it seem like I wasn’t worried about it at all, that’s more ‘spiritual.’ Continue reading “If the Buddha wrote a bio”
You’ve probably seen at least one version of this advice floating around the internet:
“Three Hobbies” has always bothered me, for two reasons.
The first is that for those of us running our own businesses, the distinction between a hobby and a business is super important. If you want to write off your business expenses on your tax return, for instance, you’d better make sure the tax authorities don’t deem your business a hobby! (I’m not going to cover this in any more detail here, but do check out the link above for more details on the critical difference between a hobby and a business.)
The second issue is that “Three Hobbies” is INCOMPLETE, almost to the point of irresponsibility, when it comes to business owners. We know how common burnout, anxiety, and depression are among entrepreneurs. While running businesses, we might also be exercising and creating obsessively… all while totally disconnected from other human beings, or a sense of connection to what is driving all this activity in the first place.
And so I’m trying on a slightly different system for cultivating — as in, actually practicing — a balanced life. Continue reading “Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life”
I am infinitely grateful for the three years I spent on the staff of RSF Social Finance, a financial services organization that seeks to revolutionize how people relate to money. Leaving that job was one of the most difficult decision I ever made! But I was literally bursting with the book I was ready to write, so leave I did, shedding many tears in the months leading up to and following my departure.
While at RSF, I had the honor of leading the development of their Food System Transformation Fund (although it had a different name then, the Food & Agriculture PRI Fund I think?), a new loan fund supporting high-impact food businesses, funded by foundation investments. You can read more about the impulse behind that fund in Don Shaffer’s reflections on the eve of his departure after 10 years as the President and CEO of this truly unique and inspiring organization.
Whenever I’ve been called to help an organization or business or another human being launch something new, whether it’s a loan fund or a product line or an entire business, Continue reading “Trasitions and Transformations”
Don’t want to read my whole TL;DR story? No worries, here are my four critical questions I recommend to anyone looking for work you’ll love:
- What’s the ultimate impact you want to have?
- What industry do you want to be a part of?
- What type of work you want to do?
- What kind of people you want to work with, in what kind of environment?
Read on if you want to hear how I worked through these before landing my job at Xero. Better yet, get your own dream job (or freelance work that you’ll love) by answering these questions for yourself!
After happily working for myself for over four years, some nagging voices started bugging me. “You’re not using all your gifts,” they said. And, “where is your team? Why do you insist on working alone?” And there was a lot of, “there’s something much bigger waiting for you, but you have to look for it.”
I knew I was ready for something different. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted a full-time job where someone else would be responsible for hustling my paycheck, and I could focus on doing My Work. But other voices tried to justify the status quo: “The way things are now, you can go hiking or surfing whenever you want!” Or, “what about your weird sleeping patterns? You’ll never be able to work regular hours.” Or the worst, “do you really want to commute over an hour a day EACH WAY from gorgeous Bolinas to an office in San Francisco?!” Continue reading “4 questions that will lead you to work you’ll love (or: How I ended up at Xero)”