How to Survive Thanksgiving

I may only be 24 years old, but I’ve had more than 24 thanksgivings. I usually attend thanksgiving multiple times each year. It’s usually a combination of my father’s, some at my mother’s, some at friends and extended family. You could say that I have more experience than the Pilgrims.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time as long as you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips to help survive Thanksgiving.

  1. Do not talk about politics. Politics are evil and will always cause a fight. Let the politicians battle it out.
  2. Mingle with everyone. Don’t find one person to talk to, work the room. The more people you talk to, the more fond they’ll be of you.
  3. Limit your consumption. Most of you want to be alcoholics on Thanksgiving and that’s fine, but not in front of your family. There’s nothing more embarrassing than your cousin blacking out and throwing up all over the floor with Grandma gazing from the head of the table. In college it’s OK to do keg stands and then suddenly wake up in the middle of a competing school’s field wearing nothing but a toga and a headache. During thanksgiving, it’s not.
  4. Ignore subjects remotely touchy. Not much else needed to be said here. Avoid the pitfall.
  5. Nod your head and agree. Sometimes it’s worth it to forgo your inner debater. Things can get ugly when you disagree, especially when it’s family or the in-laws. Ignorance is bliss.
  6. In the words of TK, spend it with someone else’s family.
  7. If the turkey is undercooked (or anything else is wrong) and you’re at a republicans house, blame it on Obama.

How to not Survive Thanksgiving

  1. Chug, chug, chug! Get absolutely plastered to the wall hammered. That’s right, shotgun beers with your grandpa, do keg stands with your Uncle. Whatever you do, don’t let them drink you under the table or you’ll look like a pussy.
  2. Curse like a sailor. Girls seem to swoon over Captain Jack Sparrow (who’s also an alcoholic, see #1), so why shouldn’t the be swooning over you? Because you’re not fucking cursing enough.
  3. Take it from Joel B. Pollak of Fox News: How To Survive Thanksgiving At Your Liberal Relatives. Don’t actually do this, that guy is an asshole.
  4. Disagree and argue your point! Are you pro-life and they are making a pro-choice statement? Don’t let them get away with it, challenge them to a duel! Argue them to the death.
  5. If the turkey is undercooked (or anything else is wrong) and you’re at a republicans house, blame it onthe GOP.
Finally, use the Julienne rule: whoever gets caught texting or is on their phone at the table has to clean everything up.

You should follow me on Twitter, where I may or may not be live-tweeting thanksgiving.

 

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Measuring Sucess

Making the most complicated meal and executing it flawlessly is not success. It’s not about how many ingredients you used or the advanced technique that you’ve practiced a thousand times. It’s not even about the tools you use or the quality of the ingredients. It’s about appeasing your audience.

Every now and again (eh?) I cook dinner for my host family – that is, the ones who actually own the toy room that I live in. Growing up with two parents who can both cook very well, I thought this would be a great trade. Room and board for the occasional end to end meal service (I clean up, too).

My father is an excellent chef and my mother, in her recent years, has become an executive chef on private jets. They both know how to cook and I grew up as a product of my environment. I’ve learned about different techniques and how to make things from scratch. However, what they never taught me was that it isn’t always about the ingredients or materials, but about the audience.

It’s about who you are cooking for.

The family consists of three children under the age of 12, their parents, and the mobile poop factory (the dog). On one hand, the parents are actually interested in how food is prepared. They like trying new flavors and even learning a thing or two when I’m able to teach them. This is pretty great because I get to show off or share my knowledge. The girls, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.

They want their food when they want it and they don’t care how long it takes or how complicated it is, as long as it’s ready when they are. Remember fists of fury? She likes her meals prepared a certain way. Nothing can touch. The chicken cannot touch the broccoli or all hell breaks loose. The youngest one, who always seems to have sticky hands, will try new things, but prefers her usual favorite. If you know what that is, you win every time. The oldest one, who is a future star on the reality show Cupcake Wars, is very basic. Adding anything additional occasionally angers her – avoid at all costs.

So how do I measure success when cooking for the family? I’ve learned the hard way. It’s definitely not technique, nor is it the quality of ingredients–alone–that is measurable.

It’s the clean plate club.

When each one of the kids eats everything on their plates, the parents are incredibly happy. It’s the way it should be. Growing kids need nutrients to continue growing.

Chicken asparagus risotto? Nope. Duck l’Orange? Nope. Mac ‘n cheese? Wins every time.

And this technique can be applied to life, entrepreneurship and any other type of business. Technique, technology, and complexity is not enough. Appeasing your audience, is.

Joining the clean plate club equals success for the chef. It requires knowing your audience, knowing what they will enjoy and executing that. And if you can do that, you’ll get repeat customers every single time.

Repeat customers? That’s success.

Come talk to me!

Every now and then I find myself sitting in a coffee shop slurping up as much caffeine as I can afford while coding away on the next “big” thing (kidding, obviously I mean’t “biggest”). There’s something mystical about a good coffee shop that allows me to get more work done. Maybe it has something to do with the atmosphere or the white noise, but I surely feel very productive. In any case, I like going to coffee shops, but it doesn’t make me any money.

Occasionally someone will come up and talk to me at a coffee shop asking if I like my MacBook Air (spoiler: I do, very much) or how I like my ear buds. Rarely does anyone talk to me about anything that isn’t physically present unless waiting in line to use the bathroom. There aren’t conversations about what I do, where I’m from, what I’m drinking or about something that happened in the paper.

Time to change that, now.

The lid of my laptop makes for a great canvas to display stickers or artwork, but what’s better than that? Advertising.

And not the anti-social/non personal advertising that billboards or television ads offer. They blast out a message to everyone instead of encouraging conversation or personalization. Those aren’t good enough and they aren’t like this.

This type of advertising has a different goal. It encourages interpersonal communication. It is both social and personal and hopefully it will drum up more conversations and therefore business. Here’s what it looks like:

In the past I’ve done some A/B testing with road signs and found out that the number one sign color combo when dealing with text is black on yellow. It’s the most visible and always resulted in the most phone calls (we tested a vast array of color combinations) so the design is the most optimal towards completing the goal. That is, this will hopefully give me the best shot at having people come up and talk to me while sitting in a coffee shop.

I’ve never seen anyone do this. I’ve seen people reserve the space on their laptop for stickers or artwork, but never this type of self promotion. (Maybe I don’t get out enough?) Either people have tried and failed, or no one has tried at all.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be testing out this variation of the laptop skin and discussing my results.

In the mean time, you should follow me on twitter.

Two is not better than one

If you’ve been around kids long enough, you’ll know that they all have something in common. No, it’s not that they all breathe the same air, play with toys, or even the notion that everybody poops. It’s something far worse.

They have the power to induce head splitting migraines and the ability to encourage strange looks of passerby’s. How? They throw temper tantrums and temper tantrums can bring out the worst in children. Why? Because children are little honey badgers – that is, they don’t give a shit when they’re mad.

Some say that that temper tantrums are as bad as earthquakes, while others claim they are more like hurricanes destroying everything in their path. All I know, is that I wouldn’t describe them as either. Temper tantrums are directly related to global thermonuclear war. It’s God’s way of saying that physical punishment is ok unless you want to face the consequences. It’s a warning for what will happen next, because there’s no such thing as a subtle temper tantrum.

They’ll kick doors down with the haste of a marching band’s snare drummer, squish miniature hamburgers with both fists in fury, or push each other in an interpersonal mosh pit only to stop when someone starts bleeding or the cops (parents) show up. They’ll do just about anything to let their rage out and persuade others into doing their bidding. And that’s the worst part: you always give in unless you’re personally addicted to pain and suffering.

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Above is is a photo of the remains of two small hamburgers. They were squished by both fists in pure and utter rage. Why? They’re made of the same meat as their larger cousin: the single burger, but boy do they taste differently.

I cannot tell you how or why they taste differently, but I can tell you that one child in particular surely doesn’t like having two half sized hamburgers for dinner. In fact, said child, must have one full size burger. It’s the same meat, same cooking process, but entirely different perceived taste. So what happened? The miniature-incredible-hulk erupted in full force crushing each miniature burger with rage and disgust. In short, she went into berserker mode and nothing was going to stop her from getting her way.

It’s interesting watching these miniature human like creatures lose their mind and it doesn’t matter where you are, either. It could be on the outdoor patio of a restaurant downtown or in a public event on main street surrounded by hundreds of people who are also your neighbors. Really, it doesn’t matter.

In-fact, maybe it’s a sign we should be more like our miniature human counterpart. I mean, they have bigger balls of courage to kick, scream, and yell to do whatever it takes to get their way. They are the ultimate achievers. They never miss a beat. It’s sort of like the story of an entrepreneur doing whatever it takes to achieve his dream, but in this case it’s a big single patty juicy hamburger.

And that was her dream. Box checked, goal achieved, and time to conserve energy for the next expedition.

…there are two kinds of people in this world: those who stand up and face the music, and those who run for cover. Cover is better. -Lt. Col. Frank Slade

How you can sip ice cold margaritas next friday and still get an iPhone 5

Margarita Fridays were a tradition with my roommates in college. Every friday we’d sit outside on lawn chairs and drink bottomless margaritas (as long as our wallets could survive). If you haven’t tried margarita Fridays, you should. It’s a great way to end a week.

It’s all good until you realize that next friday the iPhone 5 comes out. Now, you could wait in line and have someone sneak Margaritas to you at the mall or downtown Palo Alto, but that’s socially frowned upon. Instead, I have a better idea.

Next Friday the iPhone 5 launches and millions of people across the country will be lining up to get their hands on one. Last year I waited 5 hours before I had my phone and the year before was around 6. This year, I’d like to hold a place in line for anyone willing to trade their time for money. I will arrive early and guarantee a spot inline where they can get an iPhone 5 in all it’s glory on launch day (before they sell out).

Want to know where I am in line when you’re having your third Marg? Done. Want to wait less than 15 minutes to get your iPhone 5? Done. Want a free high five when you get your iPhone 5? How about two?

You only have two tough decisions to make:

  1. Black or White?
  2. Frozen or on the rocks?
There’s only one of me to go around, ladies, so act fast!

Cheers!

 

Update: iPhone 5 sold out in a record breaking time of 60 minutes. If you didn’t order it between 12am and 1am PDT, then you’re out of luck unless you wait in line. Ahem.

I’m an entrepreneur living in a toy room

It wasn’t more than a few months ago when I decided to move from my luxurious apartment in New York to live the life of an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, California. I sold everything that I had owned, donated nine bags of clothes, packed my car, and drove over five-thousand miles across the country (I took the scenic route).

I saw so much along the way. Towns with less than 800 people, vast nothingness, Wall Drug, the tallest building in the western hemisphere, morning glory, and so much more. And now, I live in a toy room.

That’s right, a toy room. It’s quite quaint, actually, with its green walls, bed spread decorated with flowers, and a door to the patio. Oh, and about 47 million little toy bits that I ocassionally find in my bed, on my desk, or being cemented into my foot as I step on them accidentally. Polly pockets (these hurt the most – avoid at all costs), my little ponies, stuffed dogs, bears, monkeys, russian dolls, books, board games, and a map of the United States that I often look at and reminisce on my journey.

I’ve traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I am an entrepreneur who’s seen most of the country. And now I live in the toy room in the back of my cousin’s house while working on projects that I am passionate about. I haven’t hit it big, nor does big mean building the next facebook or google (to me). It means being happy and successful by doing something that I am passionate about.

You may have heard about rags-to-riches stories. This story is currently in the “rags” phase.

This blog will showcase the ups, downs, and oddities of being an entrepreneur living in a toy room.

P.S. Occasionally, in the mornings, I pick up dog poop.