Hustle is a Battle Against Yourself

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Depression by Peter Birhauser. Available at http://www.cgjungpage.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=888&Itemid=41&limit=1&limitstart=2

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a blog post but this subject hit home recently with someone close to me and it opened my eyes to just how common it is.

Over the past years I’ve heard many different ways to describe the concept of “hustle” in blogs, in meetings, and over coffee. I always found myself being in utter awe at the work ethic and tenacity of the people I admire, from mentors to close friends who are also part of the startup grind. I soon learned that hustle isn’t easy, it’s a battle against yourself.

Funny how it’s called the startup “grind” and not the startup “triumphant victory” isn’t it? Well, that’s because it really is a grind. Many have heard me say “being an entrepreneur is like stepping into a world of ‘no’”. I think Elon Musk was just as eloquent in saying “starting a company is like staring into the face of death” at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011.

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. I can’t event count the number of speakers I’ve seen who love to get a crowd riled up by stating the obvious as I have above, but it’s worth exploring a core reason why it is so.

3 years into Epilogger and I can tell you that it hasn’t always been awesome wins and success, it was all work and a LOT of mistakes. Some of the mistakes were firmly rooted in the battle against myself. Stop me if this sounds familiar to you:

You get up in the morning and it’s just so easy to hit the snooze button. You hit the snooze again. you finally wake up, eat breakfast late or skip it and procrastinate checking your email as you cringe at the knowledge that there are at least 5-10 messages that require you to reply today and take some sort of action. Wouldn’t it be just way better to watch YouTube/screw around on Facebook/etc. The pipeline is narrowing and the task of filling it is just so daunting. You hear “no” all the time, so what’s the point? Rent (both office and apartment) is coming up soon, as is payroll for your employees who are counting on you. Getting nervous. Gym? Exercise? What’s that?

And on it goes. It’s like there are these tentacles that hold you every morning. It’s hard to break free of them and way easier to reach over to your phone or laptop and just waste most of the day and escape. Every day you struggle to break free, and when you do all of a sudden it’s a brighter day full of promise, new money, new opportunities and you wonder how on earth you would ever even consider just writing off the day. You thrive on the action! You go to sleep, and the next morning, tentacles again.

It was amazing to learn that just about every successful entrepreneur that I know goes through the same thing every single day. Of course they do! We live in a world where most businesses fail. Every success is a triumph over adversity. Yes, adversity.

Over the years I learned to combat my tentacle monster by learning some simple concepts from my peers.

  1. Make a routine and stick to it: get up at the same time every day, by hook or by crook. Get in the shower and GTFO. Oh, and exercise. What’s your motivation? Yup, you guessed it – it’s tentacles for you if you fall off.
  2. Set a goal: Whether it’s x number of emails or phone calls, or x number of steps taken. There are a lot of wearables that can track your steps – I use a Jawbone UP.
  3. Put everything in Google Calendar: I mean everything. Even social outings if need be. If it does not appear in my calendar it does not exist.
  4. Be reliable: There’s nothing as sweet as the appreciation you get from people who are happy that you stuck to your word and showed up/emailed/sent that deck. It pays back in spades in multiples of respect and good will.
  5. Recognize that you’re not alone: Even the most positive people still have a dark side. Without dark there is no light. For them to be so positive, they have had to exorcise their demons too, and likely still do so once their buffer gets filled up every few weeks.
  6. Learn to ask for help : No man or woman is an island. If you’re going to succeed in life and business you’re going to need help from your peers. Don’t let your pride swallow you, swallow your pride. You will see that people actually like to help others if for no other reason than the fact that it makes them feel good about themselves. Trust me on this one. And don’t forget to say “thank you” too.
  7. Feed the monster once in a while: I’m going to be straight with you: the monster lives in you and will probably never go away. It’s in your nature so if you’re going to live with it, then it’s not a terrible thing to take one day a week to let it roam free. Choose one day (i.e. Sunday) to be as lazy as you want to be. Watch all the movies you want, meander aimlessly, ignore emails even (one of my most successful friends takes a day a week to play Skyrim until he can’t see anymore). But come the next morning, get ready to fight it off again.
  8. Never. Ever. Give. Up. If you forget all of the other list items, remember this one. No matter how hard things get, rest assured they could be worse but they could get better if you hang on. I think the top trait that makes an entrepreneur is tenacity and execution. You need them both. A good metaphor is this: imagine you just fell over a cliff and you manages to grab onto the ledge. You could just hang on indefinitely but chances are you will fall off eventually. The only way to get off that cliff is to climb back onto solid ground. That requires effort, or in other words, it requires you to do something – to execute.

Easier said than done, you say? You bet. It’s not easy to say and it’s not easy to do. The tentacle monster will always be there, trying to leech away your energy and drive. “Easy” is the most dangerous drug you can get hooked on. Think of this list as an arsenal of countermeasures against the beast, but make no mistake it lives inside of you and will await the day you choose “easy.”

Now, take all this talk about entrepreneurship and startups,  and substitute that concept with “life.” The monster lives within all of us, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. Fight it every day and you will see the positive come to light like a diamond hidden in the dark.

Don’t let it consume you. Never. Ever. Give. Up.

The Genius Process. Borrowed from http://www.smashingapps.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/50-Awe-Inspiring-Underwater-Photos.jpg

The Genius Process

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The Genius Process. Borrowed from http://www.smashingapps.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/50-Awe-Inspiring-Underwater-Photos.jpg

What is the process by which a person comes up with something that is just pure genius? Some would say that it’s the fruit of comprehensive research, feedback, advice and trial. I say there is no process. There is only inspiration.

I don’t presume to call myself a genius as a way to speak as an authority on the subject but I am a creator of things. Whether it’s writing music, or creating a product, the good ideas all seem to come from the same place, and that place is a place of chaos, even insanity.

If one was to ask me for a short definition of what I think genius is, I would say it is the creation of something inspired from great inner chaos. The chaos is key.

One day it hits you and you don’t know why right away. It is a culmination of outside forces, inner views, emotions, needs, wants driven by a great passion and an incessant itch. It’s akin to going insane. I firmly believe that the failure to create something to release that energy is a core cause of what makes some people lose their grip. In criminology we called those “stressors” to sum it up nice and neatly in an academic environment. Stressors are basically unsolved issues or caused by one’s job, social pressures, life path etc. Nothing is more relieving than freeing yourself from those stressors by either solving or expressing them.

Ideas appear unexpectedly when unspoken challenges refuse to be ignored any longer. It’s that moment when you’re lying in bed just before you fall asleep that it all comes together into an idea that could inspire people or change the world. It’s when you wake up and you lose it that frustrates you. It’s that broken heart that cries out for justice via the written word or stroke of paint. it’s that electric impulse that shoots from your brain to the tips of your fingers, animating them to reach out into the ethereal and wrest something profoundly brilliant quite literally out of thin air. Once you can grasp it, you are possessed until you can exorcise the spirit from your body through the filter of your soul. You look down at your canvas, the back of that napkin, the first page of your notebook, the final note on your sheet music, the last line of code on your screen and you feel the hand of the gods on your shoulder. To me, there is nothing more beautiful in the world.

A lot of what started this blog in the first place was this very need to express and create. The Holy Trinity of Happiness is a categorized explanation of what I’ve expounded on in this post. It’s an ongoing exploration into what makes us tick and what keeps us happy. There is no scientific method employed here. Just thoughtful introspection and the occasional rant about something or the other.

The recent news about the cheaper iPhone 5c on its way to market is what got me thinking about this post. To me it seems that the new product may lack the inspiration that came from the mind of one man, Steve Jobs. I don’t know how much market research Jobs did but he came up with something that was truly special and inspired when iPod and iPhone saw the light of day. My possibly naive belief is that however he came up with the product that put Apple at its peak were still very much gestated within his own chaos before he began working with Scott Forstall on the production/realization of his designs.

Perhaps Tim Cook is doing his job right as a CEO at the helm of a company now faced with tough competitors on both the referential and economic fronts, but I can’t shake the feeling that the iPhone 5s is a cannibalization and cheapening (figuratively) of the original genius that gave birth to the iPhone. I’m sure he ran focus groups, tests, surveys and has had his eye firmly glued to the media regarding the smartphone wars. He’s taking his time, measuring, waiting. But the saying still goes, “genius waits for no one.” Steve Jobs never waited.

The 5c may be a better competitor to get people onto the iOS platform but it’s certainly not an inspired move. What set Apple apart from the rest was, well, how apart from the rest Apple was. Like Steve Jobs, the iPhone was alone in its genius. Jobs and therefore Apple’s unique genius was the ability to innovate, not compete.

The thing about genius is that it’s a lonely place. A person considered a genius is, for all intents and purposes, an outsider. S/he is certainly not “normal” by society’s definitions. In fact, more often than not, geniuses can be seen as just plain weird. However, it stands to reason that a person so non-normal or extraordinary would create something that is too apart from the norm. Sure, sometimes a genius will be celebrated by the masses, but they are always uniquely separate from the rest of us. They are alien, they are fascinating, they are enigmatic, they are terrifying, they are, in a word, awesome.

I’m Going to GROW Conference. Here’s Why.

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grow-2013

The GROW Conference is just around the corner. On August 14th in Vancouver Silicon Valley invades Canada.

As a startup entrepreneur, my top priority is building my company and ensuring a bright future for Epilogger. So, when the prospect of attending a conference comes up, I, just like any CEO of a scrappy startup must make the decision of whether it’s worth attending while 101 other things compete for my attention.

It’s no secret that there seem to be just as many conferences as there are startups (probably a gross exaggeration but you get the point), and it’s just not possible to attend them all. Some are free, some are not. Some are workshop style, others are pure schmoozefests, and some are just a complete waste of time. Whether one goes or not all comes down to value. For example a company that goes to SXSWi can find value in potentially getting some traction for their new product, even if nowadays they run the risk of being invisible in the growing sea of products looking to do the same thing. So where’s the real value? It’s in the connection you make on the ground, in person. When looking at what conferences to attend I would urge you to think about who you can meet there that could help you or your business.

Most conference have great speakers but getting to meet them can be difficult because of the usual conference formula of “pay ticket, network with people, see awesome speaker, speaker disappears, hate life.” What sets GROW apart is that I’ve found that each of the speakers – and this year’s list is very impressive – is approachable and willing to talk! in fact GROW even has a program that allows round table discussions, face to face with some of those very speakers. Last year I met with a certain CEO of a VERY successful company in San Francisco. From there we built a relationship that shortened my pipeline to them by months. I got some great advice and made one of my first real connections in Silicon Valley.

And that’s the other great thing about GROW. Imagine a conference where a veritable who’s who of investors, CEOs, movers and shakers fly out of the Valley and land in your backyard for a few days. Well that’s what GROW boasts. It’s a quick flight from SFO to YVR and the people who organize GROW (Dealmaker Media) enjoy a direct connection with California.

To put things in perspective: The population of California state alone is just above the population of Canada (38MM vs 34MM, respectively). If you can get a foot hold there with a little help from the locals who just flew to Vancouver to meet people like you, then you can finally justify that trip to San Francisco as a real business trip.

See you at GROW.

Save Toronto’s Annex

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honest eds

Honest Ed’s and now the entire Mirvish Village in the Annex is up for sale. It’s a hot topic that has hit home with me as a Toronto native and previous resident of that neighbourhood.

I’ve decided to break my blogging silence to speak out about this and paint you a picture of what is at hand here. Namely Toronto seems stricken with the bug of progress for progress’ sake. When one thinks of a list of Toronto’s instantly recognizable landmarks, Honest Ed’s is always right beneath the CN Tower. Honest Ed’s is part of one of Toronto’s last cool and interesting neighbourhoods. What makes it cool? Things to do, to experience, and to buy.

There is a great community of local merchants, students, immigrants, and more in the Annex. It’s an Oasis away from the burgeoning advance of Condoland that has all but taken over Lakeshore and King St.

I’ve come to odds with some of my peers who make a good argument that Honest Ed’s is a relic of the past and should be demolished. It’s easy to say “out with the old, in with the new” but I just don’t think that’s something you can apply to everything. A lot of what makes a city charming is the link to the past – in essence knowing where we come from.

As many of you know, Toronto has condo fever. Wherever there is a patch of grass, a condo goes up. Well we’re running out of grass and starting to knock things over for yet another condo. My question is, when we put condos everywhere, what is there left to do other than be comfortable in a nice, tiny, expensive glass box with a concierge?

I’ve been commenting on a Toronto Standard post about the Honest Ed’s Sale that has started a good discussion. The author Jonathan Naymark, makes some good points and I take the contrary position. I encourage you to read both sides of the issue in the Article and the follow up comments and weigh in on this. Click here to read it.

No matter how much I travel or where I end up living due to business duties, I love this city. It is positively heartbreaking to watch my beautiful hometown lose its culture in the name of condos upon condos. Maybe I’m a romantic, but turning Toronto into another Mississauga is just heartless.

Allow me to bias you with some of the things we stand to lose when all we think about is making more money for glass towers.

Here’s a well-put Tumblr post by Jon Spencelyhttp://jonspenceley.tumblr.com/post/55790380510/so-honest-eds-is-for-sale

And here is a wonderful video by Bicyclette Boutique showing some great parts of Toronto – including the jeopardized Annex and Kensington Market. (thanks Sheldon Levine for sharing this on Facebook earlier)

bagel quest

Bagel Quest

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It’s Sunday. I needed a bagel. So I went to get one.

 

Here is my quest to acquire and eat some bagels using Vine. I figured if I’m going to really try it out I should do it in a style that tells a story.

Where my Jews at?

Bagel quest michael nus

 

APPLECARE-plus

Why I’m an iPhone Nudist

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Can’t save em all.

People seem to love to ask me why I don’t have an iPhone case. What’s the deal? Is it some sort of rite of passage to have one? Is my iPhone not complete without it? I think not.

I am an iPhone nudist and I agree with Seinfeld’s comments about those who have cases on their iPhones:

Ugh look at that pathetic little protector. Why dont you walk around with a helmet on too? You should have a big styrofoam helmet.

The iPhone is a marvel of industrial design. Every aspect of it from the shape, to the weight, to the placement of buttons was deliberately engineered to fit in your hand and be operated with ease. You should only need one thumb to use the device and Apple has made sure this is as comfortable as possible within the configuration of the hardware. It’s a certain width for a reason. Try it yourself: put you bulky case on your iPhone and reach your thumb across the screen, then try it without. Without the case you will notice that you are able to reach all sides and corners with ease. With the case you will have to strain a bit.

I think my industrial designer brother, Ryan, would agree with the above. The devil’s in the details when you’re creating something for physical human interface.

“What if you drop it?” you may ask. Yes, it’s an all too common site to see someone with a shattered iPhone touchscreen. But if you own an iPhone you no doubt have dropped it more than once and it has mysteriously survived unscathed. In fact if you own a cell phone at all I would find it hard to believe you’ve not dropped it at some point during all the removing it from your pocket/purse to reply to that text.

I have dropped my iPhone numerous times and it’s been fine. I’ve seen many others drop theirs with similar, non-heart stopping results. However nothing is indestructible, not even the Gorilla glass on the touchscreen. The truth is that not many cases will prevent your phone from breaking after a bad fall. Even the mighty Otter Box (VERY BULKY) does not make your iPhone invincible and they cost $50-$99 for their serious cases. Whether or not your phone breaks is pretty much a matter of how it lands and what it lands on. Mine finally broke yesterday when it slammed into my hard stone driveway.

So what do I do? Well, I buy the AppleCare Plus warranty or Insure it with SquareTrade. It makes so much more sense and is peace of mind. It’s one of the few extended warranties that’s actually worth it because you are warrantying your device directly from the manufacturer. That means they have parts and stock, always.

Let’s do the math:

Otterbox/iPhone protector cases:

Average Otterbox purchase: $50-$99 + $649-$749.

If the phone breaks on a fall, you’re out up to $850. Your phone carrier doesn’t give a damn.

Say you want to get just the screen replaced? Bam! $100 from some shady guy with a cart in a mall who sells, you guessed it, iPhone cases.

AppleCare Plus:

AppleCare Plus cost: $99 +$50 fee

If you break your phone, you walk into an Apple store and $50 bucks later get a brand new iPhone, no questions asked. you’re out $150.

If you’re one of those clumsy people who drop and break their phones extremely often, stick to Blackberry.

This has been a public service announcement. That is all.

Launch Festival 2013 Wrapup

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Epilogger at launch 2013Where do I begin when it comes to trying to describe the 2013 Launch Festival. I guess I can only begin by thanking the people who organized it, the great new people I’ve met, and the awesome folks who came through for me in my time of need.

Jason Calacanis has built quite the show over the past 6 years and I think it’s the people around him who have helped bring it to such scale. Particularly Tyler Crowley, Kirin Kalia, and Brandon David. All these people were willing to burn the midnight in oil not only in organizing the conference but working into the late hours with each pitching startup to make sure we had everything we needed for a successful showing on such a big stage. Thank you.

As for the awesome folks I mentioned, I must give my sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to Sam and Melissa. The Epilogger team ran into some major complications that prevented them from joining me in SF and things were looking pretty dim as I needed someone to drive my presentation in front of 5000 people (and many more watching remotely) as well as a demo pit crew. Just when I had almost given up hope they both came to my rescue and gave me the strength to deliver a killer pitch and interview with the media. I am forever in their debt as the opportunities that have arisen are unprecedented.

I’ve met such a host of awesome people at Launch that it’s impossible to list them all but I wanted to give a special shout out to the Digital Detox guys: Brooke, Levi, and Masha. They provided much needed respite from all the tech and even more great tea. Even though I sent that remote controlled robot into their tech-free zone, I still feel I’ve made some new friends.

If you’re a startup looking to launch your product on a HUGE stage – both figuratively and literally – then you need to apply for Launch 2014. The venue is just a massive smorgasbord of new experiences and opportunities and you can’t afford to miss it. We finally launched Epilogger’s iPhone app there and are seeing some great results. Click here to download it and give it a whirl.

Head over to the Epilogger blog to see Astrid’s wrap up of Launch.

Let’s Talk About Flight Attendants

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Bad flight attendants

The thing about doing something with enough frequency is that you start to notice all kinds of things about it. At first, your knowledge of the ins-and-outs of that subject or activity begins to grow fast – you learn the ropes. You start to understand the origins and causes of certain behaviors. In effect, you gain an understanding of the rules. These days I seem to be on more planes, more often. I have been on just about every airline I can think of and I too have noticed some patterns. One big one is that the skies are, for the most part, not nearly as friendly as they once were. Do any of you remember the days when in-flight meals were part of the price you paid to sit in a comfortable seat for a few hours amongst the clouds? Flight attendants were courteous as a rule, not an exception. Basically, you were treated like a customer, not livestock.

Nowadays I notice that most flight attendants are just plain rude. Particularly when it comes to the takeoff and landing cycles. Will having your cell phone out and your seat not fully upright really cause the plane to spontaneously combust? Also, I’m sorry, but the loose fitting seatbelts do absolutely nothing. They would only be useful if the plane was to be inverted. Failing that, however, if the engines on the plane were to give out, or the wings were to fall off midflight, the damned contraption would fall to the ground like a dart. Physics would not give a damn about your seatbelt.

I digress: There is probably a perfectly good safety reason for having seats and trays up, belts buckled and phones off. However I think that it couldn’t kill these attendants to ask a little nicer. I am fully aware that they do this day in and day out and most likely deal with their fair share of jerks. But even back in the more human days of flying, there were jerks on planes, but It’s embarrassing to see how they talk down to perfectly nice people who most of the time are in the midst of obediently turning off their phones (iPhones, for example take up to 20 seconds to shut down sometimes). It’s like they are just waiting to pounce on the poor SOB who dared have his phone in plain view.

Doesn’t matter what you do; them just seeing a phone is like waving a red cape in front of an angry bull. I’ve conducted a few experiments with this. Sometimes I will have my phone out on my lap. The phone is, in fact, powered down and the screen is clearly off. 100% of the time, some tired, grouchy steward or stewardess will attack with fury, loudly insisting that I turn it off. People stare as I calmly explain that the phone is indeed off.

On a recent American Airlines (Eagle) flight to JFK (3619), I was a perfectly good boy and did nothing intentional to incur any of the flight attendants’ wrath. However, upon boarding, I noticed the looks on the two flight attendants’ faces were less than friendly. The older lady looked tired, angry, and just fed up with everything. The other was considerably younger but had a flat affect – no smile, no frown: just a straight line where her mouth should have been. The weather was bad taking off so the older one announced on the PA that they would not be doing a service due to this. What bothered me was that I could have sworn she sounded relieved at this. So, thirsty and starving, I did the only thing I could do, and took a nap. I woke up some time later to see the younger one standing over me asking if I wanted a drink. I guess the weather was not that bad after all above the clouds? I ordered my drink and before I could ask for anything more, she rushed off to the next row. Politely, I asked if I could have the gleaming bag of almonds that sat so tantalizingly atop the drink cart. My voice was definitely loud enough, I thought, to be heard but she either really didn’t hear or was ignoring me, so I tapped her shoulder gently.

Now, remember the flat affect I mentioned before? That faded. Try to imagine this because it actually happened: without moving her body, she slowly turns her head to me, her eyes wide and wild, her mouth in a grimace so deep that she looked very much like a Japanese Kabuki. I felt like I had just angered an ancient volcano god by daring to ask for anything more than a can of tomato juice, but I pressed my next question anyway and asked politely for the almonds. She let out a sigh so big that it pretty much completed the Kabuki/volcano god image in my head as I imagined steam coming out of her mouth and nose. Sure enough I get the almonds, which she slams into my hand without so much as a word – more like a grunt really. Man, did those almonds ever taste salty. The people around me seemed to be paralyzed in fear of asking her for the same thing, as you would think that if one guy asks for almonds and gets them, others would follow suit. Not on this plane! All I could do was sit crunching away while my neighbors watered at the mouth. I felt that if I offered them any, they would suffer the flight attendant’s terrible vengeance.

The older one had been a complete boor the entire flight: never did I see a smile or hear “please,” “thank you,” or “you’re welcome.” All she said was “drink?” to her passengers. Oh, and she hassled me for having my phone out when we landed. As I exited the plane there was no “thanks for flying American, have a nice day.” All the exiting passengers got was a muttered “bye” from her lips with her eyes affixed to the floor.

You may think that what I just described was an isolated incident in what is a nightmare scenario but you would be mistaken. This sort of awful service is actually quite commonplace, particularly for domestic flights and flights to and from the US. I see it all the time with only a few exceptions. I am bewildered when the safety announcements come on, thanking passengers for choosing whatever airline it is. It’s as if they think that people care about the the brand of airline when choosing that particular flight, when in reality the only factors are price and flight time because it’s not like one airline has more amenities than the other. You get a seat, a checked bag fee and a big old can of shut the f*** up from the flight crew. If you want food, better whip out the old credit card because despite that $600+ price tag and six-hour flight time to fly from, say, Toronto to Vancouver, all you’re getting is cola and water. Diabolical.

I’d say the nicest part of the flight experience is the airports themselves these days. Have you noticed how extravagant these buildings are? I remember when terminal 3 was a complete hole, but it didn’t matter, because stepping onto a plane with a friendly crew and more human service and amenities was the real pleasure of flying.

brooker9

The Day I Met Chris Brooker

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The day I met Chris Brooker

It’s a new year and things are already shaping up for some exciting times. I thought I would take a moment between now and my next San Francisco flight to get back to blogging and continue my “The Day I Met:” series. 2013 is the year of Epilogger so I’d like to tell you about:

The Day I Met Chris Brooker

It was in 2010 when I met Chris Brooker. In 2010, new people were becoming friends, LoserKaraoke was still in its original form at Tequila Sunrise and I had just come to Toronto from New York looking to start something new. It was the summer of love, if you think about it. There was still GenYTO, Tweetups for the sake of meeting new people, and Tumblr meetings. People just wanted to connect. It was innocent. Social media was too and the corporations and agencies weren’t hip to the jive just yet.

Me, Brooker and Randeep

Me, Brooker and Randeep

So there I was at this peculiar weekly night out on the town in a cramped Mexican saloon called Tequila Sunrise meeting all kinds of interesting people and finding myself fascinated by all of them. I was hooked. I wanted to know what was going on in Toronto and all I had to do was check Twitter for any one of many open invitations to an event, a casual hangout, a tweet up – whatever. On one particular karaoke night I met Chris and was immediately comfortable talking to him. He was friendly, fun, and smart as hell. We became friends pretty quickly.

The first thing I can remember was that we exchanged numbers and twitter handles (back in the day everyone was exchanging numbers and twitter handles – there was no pretense, no one was too cool) and we had a few beers while singer after singer screeched out one song or the other. I remember texting him some time after that, on a different night, asking him what was going on around town. His reply was “Tumblr meeting. You should come.” Here was a person I barely knew and the invitation was open, no worries. The photo above was taken in 2010 around the time we met.

I never made it to the tumblr meet up , I don’t think I was even on Tumblr at the time, but over the weeks and months to come we kept running into each other at one thing or the other, with Karaoke being the baseline, as it was for just about everyone in the tech scene.

Over the Years:

Chris Brooker Epilogger

Epilogger’s first public test run at Code Your Art Out

There was just no way that I could have known that Chris and I would not only become very good friends, but business partners. If I knew how much this extraordinary man would put on the line to build something as great as Epilogger with me, I might have never done it. We’ve had our high points, our low points, and our rows but it has been a most excellent adventure. Who would have thunk that a genius developer and notorious straight shooter would one day leave his 9-5 to become a captain of Industry, creating something truly great. Through his sacrifice and dedication I’ve been honoured to call this man my friend. There are just too many stories, misadventures, drunken nights, high fives and more to tell in one blog post. He has been at my side through just about every scheme I’ve dreamed up. He’s always there.

The best piece of business advice I ever got was from my friend Guy Gal (look for his “The Day I Met:” soon) who once told me “only start a business with someone you trust 100%. If there is any doubt at all, even the smallest, don’t do it.”

Nate and Chris

Nate and Chris

Smart words from a smart man. For all the time I’ve known him, Chris has been the most trustworthy, reliable, hard working, colleague I’ve ever known. Everything he creates is amazing. It was shortly before we were heading off to Founderfuel that Chris told me of a new project he was working on: Nathaniel William Whiteside Brooker, his son with his beautiful and equally smart life partner, Krista. That I was one of the first to know humbled me. I gotta tell you, this kid is gold and I am every bit as interested as his parents in seeing him grow up to be another amazing human like the Brookers.

What I’ve Learned from Chris

By now I would think that anyone who has ever met Chris has experienced his complete and sometimes brutal honesty. He never means bad by it, he just tells it like it is. Chris does not ever deal in hyperbole. If it comes out of his mouth, you can be sure it’s the unlubricated truth and you would do well to listen. He is regimented, deliberate, rational, and stone solid, but he also knows how to have a blast. In the Karaoke days he was a hoot, and he would always show up to our Epilogger team-building exercises at the usual place and throw down like it ain’t no thang.

Whenever I am being honest with myself or someone I always think of how Chris would say it. He has the unique ability to be honest and not make you hate him – and that’s a truly rare thing that I can only hope to achieve one day. I’ve learned to become a better leader, a more patient, productive person, and a better friend to any who I would refer to as such. To be Brooker-honest, I don’t think I will ever stop learning from him.

Chris, if you read this, I want to thank you for helping me and everyone around you achieve great things. See you at the top, partner.

Chris dreaming up new Epilogger magic

Chris dreaming up new Epilogger magic

 

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine.

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end of the world 2012

I didn’t really want to touch this subject but I got to thinking about it and so, changed my mind.

The world is supposedly going to end on December 21st due to the Mayan calendar running out of space. That’s a very simplistic version of the reason, but let’s just leave it at that for the sake of Coles Notes etiquette.  Basically a lot of, um, not-so-smart people buy it and, if you’ve been watching the news, there are droves of folks buying doomsday supplies like it’s Y2K all over again. It’s 2012, information is more readily available than ever, and we’re still pulling a War of the Worlds type panic. Orson Welles laughs from beyond the grave, to be sure.

Look, I’m sure the readers of this blog don’t buy it for a second. In fact the panic I described above seems to only really exist in households that are a bit removed from the coasts of North America (although there are some exceptions in the cities too) but, just in case there is still a twinge of worry in the back of your mind, here is NASA’s rationale for why you should stop being ridiculous and get back to wrapping your holiday presents. Of course, if you’re like me and choose to go the escapist route, Old Spice has made a series of free online games in which you play as legendary point guard, Dikembe Mutombo in his adventures to save the world from the Mayan Calendar. The really neat thing about it is that when you complete a level you get to see an actual live feed of a robotic arm carving a new ring into the Mayan calendar to buy us more time. Try it here. Why Dikembe? I have no idea, but it’s really his voice on the game and it’s hilarious.

But what if the world were really going to end on December 21st, or any other date for that matter? I guess the popular thing to do would be to worry yourself to death before any cataclysm could even get to you. In my case I’ve gotta say that if the world ended, it would be a HUGE relief for me. I would be off the hook for so many things! Imagine the freedom of knowing that your responsibilities are now null and void, your calendar is free and any recurring commitments are moot! All that would be left to do is be with the people you love and be happy that you don’t have to return their copy of Assassin’s Creed 3 that you borrowed but never got around to finishing. Oh, and 4chan would cease to exist too…fringe benefits.

It’s the End of the World as We Know it, and I Feel Fine.

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