My Quarter in Review: Winter 2016

What I Accomplished

My greatest accomplishments over the last three months was that I finally made it to Thailand! My Thailand trip has been a dream since August 2014, and I was able to save enough money to go by September 2015. December 2015, I headed off to Thailand, and spent a whole month enjoying life!

Not only was the experience amazing, it was also a validation of the direction I decided to take my life. These decisions were not easy, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. However, to know that I had finally made enough money, from my own business, to fulfill a huge ambition, was both humbling and exhilarating. I will always remember treasure my memories of Thailand and Malaysia, which was so close that I had to go!

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One highlight of Thailand was that I got to go deep water soloing! I cannot wait for my next climbing trip.

Some other accomplishments include:

  • Successfully pulling off The Design Thinking Challenge in Schools @ CASA event. Every single student and adult guest said, “Yes, I want to do this again!” What was most exciting for me personally was that I was able to approach it by supporting the team as opposed to leading it, and that I was so confident in our process and design that even when the lead organizer couldn’t make it to the actual event, I was able to say, “Don’t stress. We got this.” And, we did! What a difference from the first time I was the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Education NYC, when I was so stressed that I couldn’t sleep for three nights.
  • Refining #NYCEDU’s language so that we’re not community organizers, we’re coalition builders. The key is that the word “coalition” has organizing across lines of difference baked into its very meaning. At first, I was afraid of this word, because it implies projects of huge impact, but I’m leaning into that fear and owning that this is who we are.
  • Facilitating “How to build diverse and inclusive communities” at the 4.0 Schools Community Summit. This represents the first time I transitioned from learning about the work of diversity and equity, to facilitating the conversation and work itself. I was again, afraid of this at first, because I didn’t think I knew enough to facilitate this workshop, but I’m so glad I leaned into the fear because my experience would have been completely different if I hadn’t. Shout-out to John Baldo at 4.0 Schools and Caroline Hill at D.C. Equity Lab for co-facilitating it with me.
  • Getting just a little more comfortable with doing dynos and loving slopers just a little bit more.

What My Goals Were

Last Quarter, my goals were:

I will continue to choose projects that make me incredibly excited to be doing what I’m doing. These are projects that take down systemic barriers to education innovation, where I get to work with empathetic, strategic, brilliant people, and that will build the Nexus Works and/or #NYCEDU brand.

I will confront my fear about finances by being much more diligent in my budgeting. Because these last six months were great financially, I relaxed my hold on budgeting. I completely changed my wardrobe, which had been sadly neglected for two years. I funded my trip to Thailand. I took more liberties with eating out. However, my fears are telling me something. So, moving forward, I’m going to think much more carefully about whether I need to buy something right now, or whether I can simply put it on a wish list and get to it later. Hint: I can put it on a wish list.

I will be even more disciplined with my time. I will spend my time on sleeping, exercising, and eating well. I will spend it on making money while doing work I love to the extent that I need to confront the fear I detailed above. And, I will spend it building strong relationships with people, both professional and personal (and many times people are both).

Overall, I could improve on all of them. At the end of January, after I returned from my trip to Thailand, I had a day in which I just couldn’t go to sleep because I was so stressed out about finances. I’m dipping into savings for the first time in a year in order to give me time to work on #NYCEDU and new Nexus Works services. Emotionally, I’m better now, because I’m doing the work of breaking these big, ambiguous projects into tangible next steps. I also want to lean into the fear of not making enough now in order to make more than enough in the future. At the same time, I want to make sure that I’m controlling for catastrophic risk. I’d rather not succeed in these new service products now in order to preserve my ability to continue iterating in the future.

What My Goals Are Moving Forward

My goals for the next quarter are the same as my goals for this past quarter. I will (1) choose projects strategically, (2) confront my fear about finances, and (3) be even more disciplined with time.

My strategies for doing so are to:

  • Delegate. I don’t have to do everything. In fact, I don’t have to do everything. I commit, especially, to supporting the new SWEDU NYC lead organizer instead of being the lead organizer. I also commit to bringing a partner onboard with #NYCEDU so that we can build it together.
  • Plan. I feel better when I’ve put order to chaos, when I’ve done the work of breaking down my assumptions so that I can systematically test them, and when I’ve set tripwires to activate decisions depending on new data. I need to plan in order to curb anxiety, execute effectively, and learn intentionally.
  • Say no. I’m saying no to actively dating right now. Given all the things changing in my business, I want my relationships to be stable. I have such a rich cast of friends — now is the time to lean on them. Of course, if the universe conspires to bring someone into my life, that’s wonderful as well! I just won’t be purposely seeking it. I’m also saying no, or at least, not now to meetings that aren’t necessarily aligned with my priorities. My time is valuable! Particularly when I’m playing the living off of savings game, and I will be as diligent with that time as possible.

Finally, I’ve added these SMaC’s to my Personal Mission Statement. They are:

  • Lean into my fear. When I feel afraid something, something I know intellectually is irrational, I do it. I am afraid of jumping to grab onto climbing holds; I will lean into that fear. I am afraid of dipping into my savings again; I will lean into that fear. I break that fear up into its component parts and tackle one part at a time.
  • Never make the same mistake three times. One mistake is a point. Two mistakes is a line. Two mistakes is all I need to never make the same mistake three times.
  • Specialize. I can only be on the bleeding edge of innovation in a limited number of topics, so I choose to specialize. I can only add unique value if I’m the best at what I do, so I choose to specialize. I know what I do, I do it well, and I say no to everything else.
  • Start today.
  • Over promise and over deliver.* I’m honest about my strengths and my areas of growth. I never promise what I cannot deliver. I set realistic expectations I know that I can meet while actively working to exceed them. The thing is, my realistic expectations are high, they’re very, very high.
  • Everything is negotiable.

These next three months will be a challenge, but it’s one I squarely face. Wish me luck as I lean into the fear.

*This is a revision of a SMaC that used to say, “Over promise and under deliver.” Thanks to James Altucher for the push to be even better.