22 photos that defined my 2016

Below is a mostly complete list of the moments and lessons that defined this past year for me. 2016 has proven to be quite an interesting year, to use the euphemism of the decade. It’s odd how the unanimity of challenging circumstances for everyone on some level, can provide a feeling of comfort to us all.

I’m not trying to celebrate or glorify the fact that it was a tough year for many people. I’m not masochistic. I’m merely leaning on the fact that our shared experiences allow for an understanding and togetherness that is significant to me. I know for me it has been one of the more difficult years of my adult life and I am looking forward to a new year as much as anyone. However, the goal isn’t to wipe the slate clean and to start fresh like a whiteboard, but to file away the lessons learned within well worn pages and to carry them forward with nuanced perspective.

1) I take a lot of pictures. A lot. Photography has become more of a passion and it’s for moments like this when I randomly saw my friend digging for clams while I was walking the pier. A photo is something to keep and to share.

2) Our beloved house by the sea. We found out the day Clive was born that our landlords were selling the house we were renting. A few months later we had to move out, but we wouldn’t have traded our time here for ANYTHING.

3) This photo was taken on Clive’s first trip to the ER. He had croup and it sounded like he couldn’t breathe at times and it was scary. We got to visit the hospital where my wife works and saw some familiar faces which was great. He was a champ.

4) These colors. This pier. Our little part of the ocean that we are fortunate enough to call home.

5) There are three essential items I walk out of the door with every morning: coffee, lunch, and keys. There was a period of the year where I could only seem to remember 2 of the 3, and I usually forgot the keys. Thus, I’d sit outside our office on this picnic table until someone else showed up.

6) NYC. I get to this city as often as I can. I love the pace. I love the energy. I love seeing friends and my step sister who lives there. See you soon!

7) On a work level, 2016 proved to be the most challenging year I’ve ever faced and I was stretched in a every way as a leader. As a young founder of an organization much of your learning is trial by fire and it feels as though you are learning by Braille. It’s exposed my strengths and weaknesses in ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise and for that I’m grateful.

8) An overwhelming highlight of the year was getting to participate in a graduation ceremony at our Krochet Kids intl. program in Uganda. Nearly 30 women took the step to move toward self-reliance as they left our programs and are now leading businesses and careers of their own. It was awe-inspiring.

9) Neighbors. We were lucky to move right behind some good friends. This meant constant scheming of ways to utilize our shared spaces. Movie night on the garage was one such escapade, and the movie Bat Kid is incredible BTW.

10) Nostalgia for me is rooted in fresh water, boats, and searching for turtles. Our family lake cabin allows for all of the above, and we are lucky to escape their at least once during the summer.

11) I love the people I get to work with. We have a tradition (creatively) dubbed “Last Friday”. On the last Friday of every month we do an activity together. Our staff and intern ping pong tournament is pictured above.

12) Remember how the Olympics happened? This was Clive’s outfit for the opening ceremonies and for the family Olympics competition we had with my in-laws.

13) My wife is a former gymnast and all around badass (both shown here). She impresses me daily and I ask her to show off her skills whenever I can because it’s one of the things that made me fall in love with her.

14) We traded the beach for this incredible nature preserve near our new home. Can you spot Amy and Clive?

15) Our family bikes. It was a huge milestone to get a bike seat for the little monster. It meant we could be mobile on bikes again as a family. Life is complete.

16) What an incredible joy it is to get to experience travel through the eyes of a child. We’ve had fun bringing Clive along for the ride. Pictured here was his first cross country trip to NYC at 6 months old.

17) I especially love this photo because of the journey I took to capture it. I left the previous night watching the sunset in Florida and then I awoke before sunrise on a camping trip the next morning in the central coast of California. The two coasts couldn’t be more different and the direct contrast was fascinating to me.

18) I have always been a morning person and Clive got that same gene. Many weekend mornings find us exploring around Newport pier like you see here.

19) Community. The Haacks put on an incredible “friendsgiving” gathering every year, but this year was especially memorable because we all sat and ate in the rain. It was magical.

20) We had board meeting/retreat in the San Juan Islands in Washington this Fall. Growing up in the Northwest I had somehow missed ever visiting this amazing part of the country. It did not disappoint.

21) This photo sums up our little guy. All smiles, one sock, and bringing joy wherever he goes. Though I didn’t know what to expect, parenting has been more difficult than I thought it would be. Higher highs and lower lows have marked our experience thus far and we’re just getting started.

22) It wasn’t until the latter part of the year that Amy and I started to attempt some date nights. I have been thankful for encouraging voices in our lives reminding us of the importance to prioritize our marriage amidst children. Here’s to more of this in 2017!

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living your own story

Create your own path.

More and more, I fear the increasingly dangerous ways we escape to living a life through someone else’s experiences. All of us are guilty of flipping through an endless stream of photos on social media, only to pick our heads up and realize that hours have passed. Our pursuit of inspiration quickly turned into a game of comparison and a feeling that we aren’t doing enough with our lives. Ironically, the response is to keep mindlessly scrolling.

I once heard Scott Belsky give a talk based on his book “Making Ideas Happen”. He mentioned a term during his presentation that has stuck with me to this day and continues to serve as a jolt to my own productivity — like a flick to the back of the ear.

From a business sense, he spoke to the incessant desire many of us have to check analytics, sales figures, or growth metrics for our work. To these minute (and often untimely) activities, he dubbed the term insecurity work, plainly stating the underlying reason for why we want to see the results rolling in, our own insecurity. The point he argued was to say that if we spent all of the energy we typically exerted in constantly checking analytics to the actual accomplishment of the goals we seek, that our results would be far better.

I think of social media in this same way. We all are at risk of sitting back and watching a handful of great photographers on Instagram lead (what seems to be) an exciting and adventurous life, while our own opportunities subtly slip beyond our grasp.

As with nearly everything I write, I put this here as much as a reminder to myself as I do to any of you who may resonate with this point. I welcome your thoughts, ideas and tips to avoid such pitfalls as well.

Start living your own story.


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just write it

Have you ever wanted to write (or say) something but stopped yourself because you felt that it’d already been said, yet you read a quote a 100 times and each time it’s motivating and you take something new from it?

In today’s world of social media and incessant sharing it can be hard to feel original. I often times find myself stifled by the desire to write something meaningful with every stroke of the keyboard. In all honesty, that line of thinking is pretty selfish for two reasons…

1) I want to project an image that portrays everything I say as being profound. It’s not.
2) I might be robbing someone from something they needed to hear that day.

In one way or another, the truth is that (nearly) everything has already been said. It’s not our job to uncover the great mysteries of life, but to share in the daily lessons learned and experiences had. They matter, not only to you, but potentially to someone else.

If something is on your heart, write it. If a compliment is on your lips, say it.

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the business of chef’s table: experience matters more (2 of 2)


Atmosphere is Everything

I have a favorite question I love to ask friends (new and old) to get to know them better. I am curious about their most memorable and enjoyable food experiences. What I inevitably find, which is absolutely true for myself, is that the most memorable food experiences had to do partially with the food and partially (perhaps even more?) with the experience and the ambience.

A few highlights from my history of eating food (I’ll probably do a follow up post on these)…
1) An authentic crawdad boil in middle school.
2) A hole-in-the-wall Chinese place blaring 90s rap & hip hop.
3) Lobster bisque that was mind-melting.

Watching the most recent season of Chef’s Table was a reminder of this intuitive, although looked-over, fact of business / life / etc. Crafting a meaningful experience is equally as important as the product you put out into the world. The best chefs are finding ways to tease out multi-sensory experiences that are unexpected. This is what sets them a part. A lot of people can make fantastic food.

To be clear, one doesn’t function without the other, but both of them working in tandem (product & experience) is where the magic happens.

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Read the first post in this short blog seres // “the business of chef’s table: scale isn’t everything”

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the business of chef’s table: scale isn’t everything (1 of 2)

chefs table france

Don’t Buy Into the ‘Scale’ Myth

I just started watching the newest season of Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s a must watch series in my opinion, but don’t start with the most recent season. Start at the beginning. It’s better that way.

While watching the first episode of Chef’s Table: France, I was struck by a very specific notion: scale isn’t everything. Too often in our society today, people imply that building something meaningful means to build something BIG. Something with scale and reach and influence seems to be desirous above most (if not all) else.

Then, you watch chefs who care so deeply for their craft that they choose explicitly to not make business decisions for the sake of efficiency and growth. They run their own gardening operations and they don’t set a menu until the day of service just to see what vegetables are going to be the absolute freshest for that day. Write that business plan in your MBA program and they would laugh you out of the room.

I believe this sort of uncompromising approach to food is above all an issue of integrity. For a chef to sacrifice nearly everything else to deliver on the promise of incredible food and a beautiful experience, is to see a person honoring their craft with all they have. This is what I admire most of the world’s top chefs, and what I find most inspiring…

They are not letting others dictate what success is for them. They are pursuing their passions and people happen to want to partake in the action.


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