Discover more from Mind the Beet
23 for 23: Moments of joy from 2023 so far
Reflections on the first half of the year
This is my first year following in Helen’s footsteps with 23 for 23 Goals for the year. Using Gretchen Rubin’s philosophy, I created a menu of 23 activities for my year that would inspire joy and satisfaction. Juxtapose this to typical New Year’s Resolutions that are a set of commitments that cause stress.
It’s halfway through the year, so I’m inspired to check in on how it’s going. This is less about accountability and more about curious discovery of how in control of my year I’ve been. Plus, it’s fun to celebrate a few wins and moments of joy from the past six months.
👋 Mind The Beet: Two working parents (both product leaders in tech) discuss our journey with career, parenting, and life. We publish every Sunday. Subscribing is free.
🔨 Nailed It
Let’s start out with the wins! 🎉
Run a half marathon. In 2022, I did my first long-distance race (Birch Bay 15K). I trained during my sabbatical, so training during normal routines will be my crucible this year.
This past Saturday, I completed the Super Fast Half Marathon. It was my first one ever. I finished in 2hrs, 33 seconds (9:11 splits at 6.5 mph) and most importantly here’s my Spotify playlist that drove me to the finish line.
Push myself at skiing (and other sports). I find it easy to push my limits with my mind more than physical things. I’d love to crack it for sports, and I think skiing (which I’ve done for 30 years but find myself mostly coasting) is a good dimension.
I had an epic ski season that included exploring some of the double black diamond terrain at our local ski resort that I had been avoiding. A new pair of skis helped unlock the terrain, as did some trips with skiers/boarders more advanced than me.
Install solar panels, heat pumps, induction stove, and wall batteries. Our big house project of the year is to look into electrification.
Our solar and heat pump are installed and running as of two weeks ago. We’ve got a multi-year plan which you can check out here.
Take a trip with each daughter. In 2022 while on sabbatical, I did a 1:1 trip with each daughter. Repeat!
This is turning into a special tradition for our family. I did a Whistler ski trip with our oldest daughter and a San Diego trip with our youngest (where we visited Sea World).
Learn to like seaweed. Each of us in the family is picking a food we don’t like and we are all going to try it for 10 days straight. I love sashimi but can never get into sushi rolls due to my dislike of seaweed.
The 10-day food challenge was a highlight of our family’s start of the year. I can confirm that after eating seaweed for 10 days straight, I can now do sushi rolls even if seaweed crackers are still 🤮.
Prioritize China news & info. I want to incorporate news from China into my information diet. I’m starting with the Sinocism Substack.
Expanding to niche journalism has made me appreciate Substack. I now have China news as part of my routine.
Many of my new requests to speak come from readers of Mind The Beet. Thank you for introducing me to various Days of Learning opportunities or inviting me to come speak to your team. I’ve refined the talk on Managing Burnout, as that is one I did publicly at a tech conference:
Throw a great party for Helen’s 40th birthday. This one is already in the bag, but we threw a memorable 50+ person party for Helen’s 40th birthday.
A good time was had by all with many memories formed - including the epic hyper-realistic cake ala the Is It Cake? TV Show.
📈 Good Progress
Here’s a few where I give myself partial credit.
Finish Invisalign. I’m partly done with some teeth straightening and will be very glad to finish it out this year.
It’s been a year and hopefully only 5 more weeks to go!
Complete cabin projects. Our cabin is a place of joy and stress relief for us. I always find a couple ways to invest in it each year, as part of the renewal that comes with home ownership. This year, I’d like to continue our chainsaw art project, print out a checklist for things to remember when we leave, and redo the pantry.
I have a few more big-ticket items I’d like to get done with our cabin this year, but my biggest success was a pantry redo. I’m going to guess that Mind The Beet readership can, on average, appreciate the dopamine hit one gets from an organizational upgrade:
Lead as a bar raiser at a new altitude. A recent promotion is forcing me to show up in a new way this year. I have to operate at a higher altitude – more communication of support and alignment and less wallowing in problems. I find myself needing to bar-raise for the team during times of change and adjust my style to have less automatic understanding of reasons why something might be hard.
This one is hard to measure progress on, but I think most of my direct reports would say that I’m showing up differently than before - indeed more of a bar raiser, increasing my altitude, and having high intensity expectations. I’m not as comfortable in the new clothes yet nor have I managed to lead in a way that reduces the stress as much as I want, but it’s work in progress. It feels like a classic mid-way transformation. I discuss this more in my Spring mood board:
🦶 Dipped My Toe
Having these items on my list have caused me to choose a new path at times, but I can’t honestly say I’ve gotten the joy or results that I’ve hoped yet. Any ideas or motivations or help appreciated - send me thoughts!
Enjoy more non-red meat meals. Meatless Monday? I realized recently that almost all of my favorite meals involve red meat. I want to find more joy in vegetarian, fish, and poultry meals. This is both for my health and to ensure some novelty and creativity in meal planning.
I’m more conscious than ever before of seeking out non-red-meat choices - but haven’t found joy or creativity in cooking or trying non-meat meals yet.
Enjoy weekly learning time with kids. During the pandemic, I used to do multiple 15-minute learning sessions with each daughter, covering math/spelling/reading. I want to bring it back at least once a week with each kid.
Our evenings are busier than I was expecting and our oldest kid has lots of sports and music commitments. So while I’ve managed to sneak in learning times three or four times a month, it’s not part of the routine like it was during the pandemic.
Incorporate Product Play into my routine. Product makers giving other makers feedback is powerful, and I want to incorporate weekly play time with various products into my routines.
As the industry enters “paradigm shift” mode with AI, I feel like all of us have needed to find more time to try out new products and sketch out the art of the possible. I’ve had some success but feel behind on this front, especially as I see a lot of other leaders up their game here. This is a classic example of “the water level raised expectations more than I invested.”
Drive Product Culture excellence in community & craft. I’m pushing on two areas of my team’s culture around creating products this year: Novelty in how my team engages with our tech community & reinvention of how we measure and attain a high-craft product, including world-class at-scale feedback mechanisms.
My team’s made some great progress on these dimensions, but I personally haven’t unlocked the way I want to show up and lead here in a high bandwidth way. This is a classic “sponsor and champion while letting others go deep” opportunity for me.
Deliver results as a non-profit board member. I’ve joined my first non-profit board - the Bellevue Arts Museum. I’m interested in balancing governance with execution and learning how to be useful to the arts community.
I’m still in learning mode when it comes to figuring out how to drive impact on a non-profit board.
🤔 Oh, that was a thing?
I celebrate the fact that I have many things on this concluding section of the list! My goal is zero grief for the menu items not yet chosen - I don’t view this as failure. Instead, it’s a moment to reflect on the Why and reassess if I am being as intentional as I want in my life.
Find more early-stage & angel investments. I want to continue our journey to learn the best practices in non-traditional investments - angel, early stage, real estate - and use them to improve our network and learn about more industries.
The greater intensity of work due to the paradigm shift to AI took up the mental space that I thought I could give to this.
Do a solo recharge week. In 2021, I did a solo recharge week. I’d like to repeat this year.
Invest in meditation. In 2022, I introduced myself to meditation, in large part due to many readers reaching out and giving advice. I want to take it to the next level. I’m interested in a multi-day meditation retreat some year, although probably not in 2023.
It was a lot easier to meditate on sabbatical. :)
Get good at interviewing. I think I’d make a great podcast interviewer, but I know it takes practice. I’d love to interview other product leaders and I’ve got a few unique approaches that would be differentiated.
A side quest not yet taken!
Become a locus of good product jobs. I want to grow my LinkedIn following 50% (up +2K to 6K total) and use my network of fellow managers to connect job seekers with awesome product jobs and be known for it.
I will hit my LinkedIn subscriber goal but with the industry hiring downturn, I haven’t been able to push myself in this dimension.
Publish a letter to the editor in either the NYT, WSJ, or the Economist. I’ve submitted before but have yet to get one published.
3 letters submitted, zero published yet.
Publish a short story. In 2022, I learned a lot about how fiction writing is hard and very different than the writing I do today. I’d love to break down my fear of it and find a way to get started.
Seal not yet broken on this one yet.
One of the top themes of Mind The Beet is intentionality. Indeed, a gift that consistent writing has given both Helen and me is the space to reflect more frequently, which drives us to be more intentional in how we spend time, seek out joy, and where we put our energy. It’s not about the number of things completed on a list; it’s about savoring the wins and generating control around our time.