Birthdays are always good times for reflection and this year I'm feeling particularly introspective. Perhaps it is because 33 is a number of great significance to one of my good friends or perhaps it is because my last multiple of 11 year was so impactful (graduating from college, meeting Katie) that this birthday feels . . . auspicious!
At the same time, 2012 so far has felt . . . stretched. In all candor, I am struggling to keep up with everything I'm working on. First and foremost is my cleantech startup, Smart Office Energy Solutions. I love the work we are doing, the success we are having (awards, customers, etc.) so far, and our future opportunities. Moreover I continue to be humbled by the faith our investors have placed in us. With all this, though, I am feeling mounting pressure to make this a huge success. In baseball terminology my entrepreneurial career so far has yielded a few singles and no strikeouts (So maybe I'm not swinging hard enough!) but no home runs yet. Given the upside of this venture, it is clear to me that this has the greatest potential of any of my previous attempts to be a grand slam so I am pouring my time, energy, and emotion into making that happen - not only for me, but for our "extended team" including employees and investors.
This year I have been thrilled to start teaching entrepreneurship at Rice as well. This was in answer to a call by Rice's top leadership to help inspire and empower Rice students to pursue paths of greater impact. The teaching experience has been incredibly rewarding thus far and I am honored to have been entrusted with it. It is a lot of work, though! Perhaps future semesters will be easier but teaching something the first time requires a great deal of time and thought - if you care about the outcome for students, which I do passionately.
I also care a great deal about trying to foster entrepreneurship at Rice specifically and, more generally, within Houston. This has led to me engaging ever more frequently with several sets of stakeholders in discussion of a new initiative to bring together Rice's commercial and tech powers that be for a new initiative to catalyze entrepreneurship in an entirely new way.
Concurrently, I continue to volunteer at Rice in other ways: as a Lovett College associate, an active member of the Grad-degree Alumni Committee, and as co-chair (with Katie) of our Centennial Homecoming this year. I'm trying to create more of an alumni community in Houston too for my other alma mater, IMD. The rest of my volunteer efforts go to Give Watts, which has more opportunity for major impact and more traction than ever before.
Through all of this I'm trying be the good husband that Katie deserves (and a good "father" to Max!) while also keeping up my health, fitness, and rest. Of course these are the most important priorities.
As best I can tell, there are ~20% as many hours in the day as there need to be to accomplish everything I'm working toward. I am furiously pursuing all of them and continually trying new ways of working smarter-not-harder to increase efficiency. There is nothing new about this; anyone who knew me in college will recognize the same patterns! At the same time I am deathly afraid of failing at any of these efforts, especially as it seems that so many people are depending on me.
It doesn't take too much psychoanalysis to find clues about why I live in a perpetual state of overcommitment. I suspect that having a father who died when I was pretty young imbued me with at sense of mortality. Somewhere in the back of my mind is a sense that it could all end tomorrow which, coupled with a strong motivation to have a major impact in the world, leads to a fervor - a desperation, almost - to achieve at least some of these goals before it's too late.
Don't misunderstand me, though; this is not a hidden plea for sympathy. I love my life. I am excited by and energized by all these frenetic threads and I wouldn't have it any other way. My blood pressure is really low!
Ever since I first heard the term "deferred life plan" I immediately related to the desire to live in the now and never lose sight of my dreams. If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, I may not have accomplished nearly what I had set out to do during my short time in this world, but I would at least be satisfied that I have lived every minute of my 33 years. I have loved passionately and relentlessly pursued goals consistent with the values that I hold dear. These, I believe, are fundamental to the human experience.
At a moment like this, reflecting on my past and anticipating my future, I can't help but be overcome by how blessed I am. I stand on the shoulders of giants; I would be nothing without the friends and loved ones who have been and are with me. I apologize to you all for your emails and voicemails that go far too long before I respond; I'm definitely falling down on the job. Know, though, that I live in a constant state of gratitude for and wonder at your presence in my life. Thank you for making my 33 years such a joyous journey . . . here's to many, many more!