Posts from life lessons

Happy New Year

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I’d like to wish a happy new year to all my Jewish friends and colleagues and readers.

I don’t personally identify as any particular religion.

I was brought up Catholic, married into and raised our children Jewish, and I appreciate both of these religions.

I also feel great connectivity to Buddhism and have many wonderful Muslim friends.

There are bits of all of these belief systems that I connect to and appreciate.

But mostly I am a fan of spirituality and belief systems.

Being human is a strange, wonderful, and, at times, unnerving experience.

Spirituality and belief systems help us with our humanity and make our time on earth a bit easier.

If we could have that without all of the other stuff religion brings, that would be a wonderful thing.

Today is a day for my Judaism. I will attend services with my family, hear the shofar, wish everyone Shanah Tovah, and celebrate with a big meal with friends and family.

Rosh Hashanah is my favorite Jewish holiday and I plan to enjoy it. Shanah Tovah.

September 11th – A Day Of Remembrance

I have written a lot about September 11th on this blog over the years.

I started AVC a couple years post 9/11, while I was and NY was still very much in its wake.

Time has a way of making traumatic things fade away and that has happened to some degree.

But a smell, a scene, or a person can take me right back there to that awful day.

So today, like all September 11s, will be a day of remembrance for me.

Flood Damage

I got an email from a friend last night. He said that his friend was flooded in Texas and had lost many family mementos and valuable items.

Obviously this is a terrible thing to have to go through.

We went through it during Hurricane Sandy when the Hudson came over its banks and flooded our building’s basement and first floor.

All of our building systems were destroyed and all of the families had to vacate our building for what turned out to be almost four months.

We also lost everything in our storage unit in our basement, including many family mementos and valuable items.

We fought with the insurance companies for almost a year and recouped maybe 50 cents on the dollar.

The mementos were and are irreplaceable. Gone forever.

But as I am typing this, I must say that although it was a terrible experience for us, nobody in our family was hurt and we have fullly recovered from it

Thankfully we have the means to absorb the financial losses and I realize that many people don’t.

We should have better federal flood insurance for this reason. The federal flood insurance system doesn’t cover many things that it should and sadly many people in Texas will suffer significant financial losses that they will not be able to fully recover from their insurers.

At this time, it seems that the death toll for Harvey will be in the range of Sandy, which took 117 lives, mostly in NY and NJ.

To lose so few when so many are impacted is a testament to the outpouring of assistance that we saw in both Sandy and Harvey. There are many heroes in both of these disaster stories.

So first and foremost, we should all be thankful that so many were saved from harm. And we should seek out ways to help those who don’t have the means to sustain the financial losses they have taken. That is where I want to focus our support right now.

Floods are terrible. But once the waters recede and recovery begins, many will recover quickly, as we did, and move on. Some will struggle. They will need our help and hopefully we can all come together to provide that.

Fifty Six

It is my 56th birthday today.

I am spending it surrounded with family and friends on the East End of Long Island.

I came into this year thinking I would dial it down a bit on the work front and spend more time on personal things. But, like many things, the opposite happened and I have worked harder this year than I have in many years.

I have learned how to work differently. More calls and less meetings. This has allowed me to work from anywhere. And that is a blessing and a curse. I work from wonderful places but I still work.

Finding the right balance is hard. I am committed to making more time for other things in my life. But I love my work and the challenges it throws at me. So I find it hard to turn it off.

This blog continues to be a source of purpose and meaning to me. I appreciate all of you who read it and give me feedback on it.

And with that, I am signing off and going for a walk on the beach with my dog to start the day.

Thirty Years

Thirty years ago today the Gotham Gal and I were married. It was a very warm and humid day in the Washington DC area and the skies opened up and poured during the wedding ceremony which was happily inside. After that, the humidity cleared and the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful evening. That was a good omen and while our marriage has had a few thunderstorms, it has mostly been sunny skies.

We’ve known each other since we were nineteen and have lived together since we were twenty. We moved to NYC at twenty-one without a dime to our names and the first bank account we opened was a joint account. Everything we’ve accomplished over the years has been our collective success and there have been many successes and plenty of failures too.

Our three amazing children are our greatest success and our greatest joy. We also love NYC, LA, Amagansett, Paris, Park City, art, food, and entrepreneurs, not in any particular order.

Thirty years of marriage feels substantial. It’s not yet a lifetime together but we are getting there now. And it feels great. There is no greater feeling in life than to love and be loved and I feel bathed in it today and every day.

To celebrate this milestone, we took off four weeks from memorial day weekend through this coming weekend. I like to call it a victory lap. While we haven’t avoided work entirely, we have cut back on it dramatically. And today, we won’t work at all. We plan to spend the day together in Paris enjoying each other and everything this wonderful city has to offer.

Getting Hacked, Lessons Learned

I read Cody Brown’s blog post about getting hacked on Thursday of last week. I feel very badly for Cody and plan to send him some BTC once I get access back to my account. His post helped me avoid his fate.

I woke up Friday morning (central european summer time) and saw a bunch of emails in my inbox suggesting that suspicious activities were happening in my personal gmail account, my mobile phone account, and my two factor service.

I immediately thought “that’s the same attack pattern that Cody wrote about” and I was able to get to Coinbase and have them lock down my account immediately. The good news is nothing appears to have been taken from my Coinbase account although I don’t currently have access to it right now and thankfully nobody else does either.

Without getting into the specifics, I would like to tell everyone five things I learned from this awful experience:

  1. Call your cell phone provider and put a “do not port under any circumstances” hold on your phone number. I did this about six months ago and I think it may have saved me. It is way too easy to port a phone number and once a hacker has your number, they have access to two factor codes coming via SMS.
  2. Put two factor on everything you can. I did not have it on my old and dormant gmail account which is partially why it was vulnerable. Obviously I have it on there now.
  3. Check your password recovery settings on all of your accounts (even old and dormant email accounts) and make sure they are secure accounts (locked down phone numbers (#1) and secure email accounts (#2)). Once a hacker has access to one of your old email accounts, they can impersonate you digitally.
  4. Use Google Authenticator for two factor on your phone. I have used SMS and Authy in the past and my research yesterday suggests that Google’s Authenticator is the most secure of the two factor options out there right now.
  5. I keep almost all of my Bitcoin in Coinbase’s vault service which requires 48 hours and multiple approvals to make a withdrawal. If the hacker had gotten into my Coinbase account, they would have been able to take my Ethereum and a small amount of Bitcoin, but not most of it. I believe Coinbase should evolve their vault offering to handle all of the crypto assets they support, or possibly make the two day withdrawal/multi-sig feature available to all of their wallet offerings.

I am still a bit shaken up from the experience and a fair bit more paranoid from it. Which is a good thing I’m sure.

I hope my sharing this with all of you helps you make your online life a bit more secure because there are a lot of bad people out there working hard to hack into your accounts and do bad things.

Writing and Speaking

I got a lot of comments about the two videos I posted last week suggesting that I have nailed the art of public speaking.

I don’t know about that, I am my harshest critic.

But I do believe that writing regularly makes it so much easier to speak publicly in unscripted situations.

Writing forces you to work out your views and articulate them clearly and concisely.

Then when you are asked a question related to those views, you have already worked out the answer.

It is in the brain, waiting there to come out crisply and concisely.

I’ve been writing daily for going on fourteen years so that is a huge body of work, opinion, thought, and insight to be able to pull from.

My views have evolved over the years and so not all of that content is relevant at this point, but most of it is.

So if you have to speak publicly a lot, particularly in unscripted situations, I would suggest you write publicly regularly as well.

They work incredibly well together.

The Fall Classics

Its that time of year. World Series, Halloween, Daylight Savings Time, and Thanksgiving. 

It’s a wonderful time of year even though the days are getting shorter, it’s dark outside on my way to the gym in the morning, and I have to wear a coat to work.

There is something about the change of seasons, kind of like cranes actually, that reminds us that change is never ending, and that is a good thing

Happy Halloween everyone.

Fifty Five

I am fifty five years old today.

I have always loved having a birthday in late august.

It’s a time of year when things slow down.

It’s a time of year to be surrounded by friends and family.

It’s a time of year that begs for reading a good novel on the beach.

And I am doing all of those things.

What I am not doing is letting the aging process get me down.

I am enjoying getting older.

I particularly enjoy watching things I helped create grow into amazing things.

I am mostly talking about our three children.

But I am also talking about the companies we helped get started over the past twenty years.

And I am also talking about philanthropic and civic efforts we have helped get off the ground.

Time has a way of revealing who you are and what matters to you.

And, at age fifty five, I have put in enough time on planet earth to have those revelations.

And that feels great.

Fun Friday: First Seven Jobs

William suggested this to me last night and I was dismissive, but like many things, a good night’s sleep changed my mind.

There’s been a meme going around Twitter called #firstsevenjobs, in which you list your first seven jobs.

These are mine:

  1. Test taker. Yes, I got paid $5 to take a standardized test on sat afternoons in fourth grade. Practice makes perfect. I’m a fantastic test taker.
  2. Hot dog vendor at Michie Stadium, the home of Army Football. You had to buy them and then sell them. You could end up “eating” that last one if you weren’t careful.
  3. Caddie. Usually for the women golfers. But I did get to caddie for the club pro in the NYS Open once. That was great.
  4. Hot dog vendor at Palisades State Park. I know hot dogs.
  5. Product quality analyst for Gillette Cricket Lighters. They sold the business a couple years later. Quality, it turns out, was a big issue.
  6. Lab Assistant, MIT Water Tunnel. This is where I learned to maintain, and then write, software.
  7. C0-manager, Lobby 7 Coffee/Donut shop. I made so much money doing this. And had a free breakfast every day too.

What were your first seven jobs?