Read the article on page 24 here.
Read the article on page 24 here.
I’m on a plane back from LAX to Austin right now.
The last five days have entailed action sports, business meetings, concerts and DJ shows, dancing, driving, eating, people watching and shopping.
Experiencing the X Games and meetings with the people responsible for taking the event global in 2013 to Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.
Watching live performances by The Chemical Brothers, Diplo and Ghostland Observatory.
Driving on the 405, the 101, the 110, the 105, I-10, La Brea, La Cienega, Melrose, Sepulveda, Sunset, and others.
Hanging around Downtown LA, Los Feliz, Manhattan Beach, Sherman Oaks, Silverlake, Venice, and West Hollywood.
Eating at Patisserie on Abbot Kinney, Bottega Louie in Downtown, 26 Beach in Venice, A Frame in Culver City.
Partying at bars and clubs with name like Avalon, AV, Icon, and The Short Stop.
Seeing celebrities like Lil’ Wayne, Dave Chappelle, Guy Fieri, Ben Harper and Tony Hawk, of course.
Watching guys like Jamie Bestwick, Paul Rodriguez, Nyjah Huston, Andy McDonald, Bob Burnquist and Kevin Robinson lay down some of the sickest tricks ever, while watching young bucks Mitchie Brusco and Tom Schaar lay the foundation for prolific X Games careers.
Spending time with Cali friends, like my boy Kiel at CAA and Levi Maestro, and Austin friends like Jon and Niraj.
Visiting shops like Paul Smith and Undefeated along with Venice locations for Steven Alan, The Milk Made and Robert Graham. Buying socks, shirts, books and sneakers along the way.
Racking up some more Rapid Rewards points with Southwest and Starwood Preferred Guest points at the Sheraton.
Driving a black Nissan coupe from Enterprise and taking it up to 125mph in the tunnel at LAX after driving some 390 miles in five days in LA, including a 2:30 a.m. trip up Mulholland Drive.
What does all this mean?
I’m not really sure, but this is the life I’m living right now. It’s fast-paced, culturally-dynamic, uber-everything and experience-driven.
Charlie Sheen and DJ Khaled say it’s “winning”, Birdman and Kanye may say its “ballin’”, Levi Maestro and Matthew McConaughey call it “livin’”, Curren$y calls it #JetLife.
I call it something else: the siph-life.
No matter what it is that I’m doing with my time or where I am, I siphon a little bit of value and enhance my quality of life with every single act of every single day.
On Wednesday I start another fivee-day trip; this one between Atlanta and Nashville. I’ll be running the Peachtree 10k first thing in the morning on Wednesday, hanging out with my friend Larry (of We Are The Process glory) all day and watching the Atlanta Braves while catching up with a high school friend. Then I’ll go back to Sid Mashburn and buy a purple tie (since I accidently put my favorite purple Ike Behar tie in the dryer last week), and check out the new G-Star Raw store my boy Farshad (of Standard ATL fame) opened up. Then I’ll drive up to Nashville to meet up with friends I just met in Charleston three weeks ago and do some Music City research to add more background to my book, Indisputable, about why Austin’s live music scene is the best. And all this helps me bring sound perspective to Bazaarvoice; I am the ultimate consumer-traveler-social mediaphile.
Maybe I do too much. Maybe I don’t sleep enough. Maybe I share too many details. Maybe I shop too damn much. Maybe I should slow the f*ck down. Maybe travel is exposing me to risks greater than if I sat still in Austin for a while. Maybe I’m distracting myself from something much larger and more important.
The only thing I know for sure is that this siph-life is pretty awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing right now.
This isn't something I wrote, but I had to share this because it touched me in such a way that very few things I read do. This originally appeared on the Yale Daily News site.
The piece below was written by Marina Keegan '12 for a special edition of the News distributed at the class of 2012's commencement exercises last week. Keegan died in a car accident on Saturday. She was 22.
We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.
It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.
Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.
This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.
But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves...” “if I’d...” “wish I’d...”
Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.
But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.
When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.
For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…
What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.
We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.
We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.
One of the things I love about writing stream of consciousness is that I have a lot of time to hear things, see things, experience things and get into informal conversations about a number of issues. And then, only after all of these things are considered, can I put fingers to keys and type these diatribes out in a matter of minutes. They usually don't take very long.
Could I put more time and thought into them? Sure. But that's not where I am right now. It's funny, I've been thinking a lot about how I spend my time, and how others perceive I spend my time, and in multiple conversations I've had people - typically women or people older than me - give me advice. They see my talent, my drive, and they want to help. They want to help me refine myself. But I can only refine myself for myself. Your help is just that, help. It's extremely appreciated, but cannot do for me what time, experience and internal dialogue can do for me.
The people in my life, especially my family, my good friends, my business partners, my mentors and personal board of advisers, are the most valuable external sources I have. Add them all up, and I'm backed by a lot of experience and wisdom. But experience is what will help me gain wisdom.
Here's one thing I've been wanting to share. This is the one nugget of wisdom I carry with me every day.
I don't need evidence to know I can be great. I prove it to myself everyday, even when what I'm doing is just good. The sheer volume of how many "goods" I've piled up to this point is a testament to my ability to cross-train for greatness long term.
Truth be told, I don’t want to be great at any one thing this early in my life.
Being great can be very pigeonholing. I want to tread carefully so that I have multiple paths to greatness rather than just one.
Think about it: If you do that thing in a great way and you become that guy. You’ve done a good job at being great so you can no longer settle for good elsewhere.
Actors, ballplayers, comedians, models, mothers, rockstars...they're all victims of single-track greatness.
Look at Andre 3000 and the perception of his rap skills versus his knack for style. He’s great at rap, he’s pretty good at fashion. Kanye West has the same story.
Look at Michael Jordan. Great at basketball so never allowed to be good at baseball.
Look at Barack Obama. Great at campaigning, so he’s not being allowed to be considered great at leading despite his dozens of accomplishments while in office.
Look at Bill Gates. First he was great at tech, then he had to be broken down. Microsoft had to be sued and the Goliath partially slayed in order for its leader to be re-introduced as a great man elsewhere. Today, we have the Gates Foundation.
Another Bill, Clinton, experienced a self-inflicted move from great to good – during the Lewinsky scandal and Al Gore’s 2000 loss – in order to re-invent himself as a great ex-president.
It’s hard to be both great and good. No one ever gives you that option.
You either have to be John Lennon or Marvin Gaye alive or you have to be them dead.
You either have to be LBJ respected and revered in 1960 or LBJ not running in 1968.
You either have to be JFK or Richard Nixon. America leaves its leaders no grey area.
That’s why, I’d rather not waste my time with greatness at a single thing just yet.
I’d rather master the art of all-around goodness.
From here, I can pivot and position myself in whatever direction I so choose. A writer. A philanthropist. An activist. An entrepreneur. A fashion guru. A social media savant.
Whatever it is right now, I’m A-OK with being slightly better than OK at every single thing I do. Because this country has plenty of people trying to be our generation’s George Washington – be it in politics, tech, sports, etc. the title holders and leaders - but not nearly enough people emulating Ben Franklin – the thinkers, brainstormers, conceptualizers, tinkerers and doers.
Is this an excuse not to pursue greatness in my life? No, not at all. I know I can be better at a lot of things.
It’s just a request for patience. I have a plan for great, trust me, but it’s going to take me many more years and much more practice at good to get me there.
I was having a lively discussion with two really good friends over dinner tonight, and I want to share some of my points. Although I have a 6 a.m. flight, this is the kind of heavy topic that prevents me from sleeping soundly.
I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the way Black Americans are educated from one generation to the next. The analogy I’d like to use, a timely one I believe, is that of a game of baseball. Black Americans are taught – self-taught, primarily - to bunt and hit singles, but then our only options are to stand on the base waiting to be driven home or to steal our way across the bases. We have an outsized need of help from others, or we take what hasn't been given. Government or prison.
You're considered "special" if you make it to 2nd base in life: white-collar work. Seriously, do you realize how many runners reach 2nd base that never score runs? Second base is nothing. It's just a stat. If people want to get credit for stats, then they should go play in the minor leagues. The big leagues are for winners, through and through.
This isn’t an analogy I use lightly. I know this may rub some people the wrong way, because it will seem like a gross generalization and maybe Black self-hate or something else that is customarily lobbed onto anything critical of the standard m.o. in America. So be it. This here is a diatribe.
Us Black Americans need to learn how to move across the bases ourselves. I believe in agency, and my life to this point has been my best attempt to be the best agent for my own level of success in this world. Sure, I've had help from plenty of people, Black and White, but I can't credit anyone other than myself for getting my where I am today outside of my mother for birthing me and my father for leaving me.
White Americans have dominated baseball for decades, centuries even. I’m not talking about the Yankees. I’m talking about the Waltons, the Romneys, the Kennedys, the Zuckerbergs. This is a game as old as any we’ve played in America. It's a game of bases, four total, that take a generational - team - effort.
The first base/generation has a sole purpose. That is to reach base. Bunting with zero outs is not ideal. Preferably, you have a good leadoff hitter to reach first base on a single. This is a speedy, hard working guy who doesn’t hit for power but hustles extremely hard. These are many of our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents if you're lucky (for those HBCU legacies).
Blue-collar work is the duty of a first generation. Scoring opportunities are significantly increased with a runner on base. You no longer have to hope for a home run, the rarest feat for a generation, to score. The lottery, the get-rich-quick-tips...these are home runs as rare as no-hitters.
The next step is advance the runner. You can do this in one of four ways:
1) A stolen base. This goes back to the hustle. You have to have that in order to be able to move yourself ahead in the game. Whenever people mention things like “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” they’re talking about stealing bases. Some people can do this, but it’s not common. Less common today, in fact, than ever. The gap is widening, stolen base kings no longer as prolific as the days of Rickey Henderson.
2) A sacrifice play. This is far more common. Far too common, actually. One generation making countless sacrifices for another. The common perception is that single Black women make these types of sacrifices to raise their young children. This is true, but I don’t think this is a female-only fact. Men make sacrifices, perhaps of their professional ambitions and dreams, to provide for their families. Advancing their children’s ceilings from blue-collar to white-collar work.
3) A base hit. A good team may have a batting average in the area of .280, meaning out of 100 opportunities to reach base with a hit, 28 are successful. Does anyone like that average for young Black America? One hundred students walking into a classroom and 28 walking across a stage? I don’t think so. We need better hitting coaches in America’s classrooms and, in many cases, home settings.
4) Luckily, there’s a fourth way: walks. Walks require lots of patience. Often times there is an intimidation factor as well; the pitcher has to feel you’re a threat to get a hit at the plate. So that patience, coupled with skill as a hitter, make for a stronger case to walk the batter. Walks aren’t extremely common, but they are common enough to indicate there is some discipline involved in generation advancement. My mother didn’t graduate from college, but I did. She’s been a secretary or assistant for many years of her career, and I’m probably in need of one of my own.
Third base is hard. Stealing third base is really difficult. Double steals (where runners on both first and second base advance to second and third, respectively) happen, but very rarely. If the previous batter reached on a walk, a consecutive walk allowed is highly unlikely. Another sacrifice play is possible, but the field of play becomes smaller to achieve the intended goal of advancing the runner without risking giving up a double play. Ground balls are not your friends, either.
Long story short, you need a decent bat on the ball, there needs to be some power and loft with any contact. This is where a lot of generations get hung up. The right contact is never made. They leave too many runners on base and don’t bring enough runs home. Generation after generation, runners are left on first and second, blue-collar and white-collar work alike, yet never reach home.
Whether your paycheck is for $7.25 an hour at McDonald’s or $75,000 a year as an accountant, you may not have scored a single run yet. You haven’t won anything. Sure, you’ve shown signs of success…you have potential…but your scoreboard still shows zero.
Too many people confuse base hits, stolen bases, walks and sacrifices as runs. They are not. If you can’t get the runner over to third, you’ll never make it to the home plate. So what is third base if first is blue collar and second is white collar? Third base is creative professionalism.
It doesn’t mean you’re in Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” necessarily. You don’t have to be a web designer or writer or musician, no this creative professionalism is about how you utilize the hustle that got you to first base and the education that got you to second.
The combination of those skills and experiences is what has fueled a generation of tinkerers and thinkers whom are now creating their own jobs. Zuckerberg is a famous example, but there are millions of White Americans who've been able to do this for the last couple of decades. Sure, some of these jobs exist within corporations or organizations, but their existence is a result of the collective effort of many creative professionals. The pressure was applied to the pitchers so often that a pitch was met with a live bat.
Unless you’re doing something you love, something you’ve been trained to do and trained yourself to master, and can make a living doing it, you’re not on third base. There are not many Black Americans on third base. I'm not saying there aren't any, I know quite a few actually like Johnica Reed and James Andrews and Coltrane Curtis, but they have thousands of Twitter followers and fans of their work because they are anamolies.
Black people: don’t lie to yourself if you’re on second. You’ll know deep down if the love and skill is there. No one else will tell you, but you should be honest with yourself and work harder.
Who knows, though, some people are happy with the stats of having reached base, gotten a steal or walk. But those stats fanatics aren’t the people winning the titles all the time. Sometimes, but not always. Why do you think Derek Jeter – and not A-Rod – is considered the Yankees great of today?
So reaching home is the pantheon of success.
You’ve hustled, you’ve been educated and worked hard, and you’ve been creative in paving your own way across life’s bases.
You want to score in this game? Score your run, congratulate yourself, then pick up the bat and hand it to a young Black American. They need us to help them learn how to run the bases too. My book “Real Role Models” and the numerous public speeches I give in classrooms and to youth organizations is my initial attempt to do just that, but I’m getting the itch to do a little bit more.
I can’t sleep on this one.