Monthly Archives: September 2013

Every trial

Is a strengthening of the spirit and a purification of the heart. As I’ve repeatedly learned in love and career, when something I hold so valuable is lost, something much better has always been around the corner, but just waiting for me to improve myself and come up from rock bottom instead of presenting itself too easily.

From Minneapolis to DC, from relationships to career, both have trended upwards, and I trust they will continue to do so. Maybe the next city will be the location that was circled on a map for me, where I’ll finally arrive at the doorsteps of what has been prescribed for me.

And the same well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. – KG


I realized I’ve never actually sat down and thought about my values. Just like a project will have a scope of work, or a class in school will have learning objectives, each individual should have a set of values that serve as the “scope” or the “objectives” by which the individual makes decisions against and adheres to. I suppose they serve as a “mission” and “vision” statement for dictating yourself and what you want to be.

In order to be the best or strongest version of yourself, I think it’s important to have well defined values and to live by them. It is not to say values don’t change over time, they do, but each change should be well thought out. Without even a loose idea of your own values, how can you decide on the bigger decisions you need to make in life?

Values like honesty, hard-work, and the importance of family are all a given, they’re cop out values. Everyone’s got them. What are the more specific values that define *you* as an individual? If someone asked me today, “ay man, what are you values?” I think I’d be sort of blank faced.

The following is a ‘off the top of the dome’ list for me to process as my own personal values. Spirituality, Humility, Charity, Hard-Work, Patience, Kindness, Social Good as a career, Meaningfulness in career, Volunteerism, Poverty-relief, Respect, Creativity, Abstractness, Loyalty, Mastery of Work/Interests , Lifelong Learning, Intelligence, Self-Awareness, Self-Respect, Self-Confidence, Resilience, Cheerfulness, Community Service, Fitness, Growth in all aspects of self, Striving for open-mindedness, motivation with enough relaxation embedded within, A connection to music and art, Progress, Empathy, Roots, Culture, Identity, Hard-Work, Family, Family, Family, Family, Family, Humor, a restraint from slander & gossip.

I suppose I should process & consolidate.  I just realized one of my legs is longer than the other one, I wonder if that’s normal.

For the First Time

The 7 years worth of pent up ambition, bottled up in my chest, endlessly burning for freedom, has finally shut the f*ck up.

Let me give you some back story.

This summer I took an unpaid Leave of Absence from work.  For nearly two months.  If you were afforded two months of nearly absolute freedom, sans paycheck, what would you do?

I know what I would do – because I did it.  I finally launched JOMO Market with my co-founder.  That part was busy.  But I also spent a vast majority of it on my rooftop, in my swimming shorts, reading books like We Learn Nothing and A Short History of Nearly Everything.  I also flew home to rural Wisconsin to visit family.  During this time, I finally had a moment to recover the numerous frayed nerve-endings inside of my brain, blazed by an overdose of technology, city-life, work-stress, and unrequited dreams.  For the first-time I could exhale breaths that weren’t anchored down by heavy retrospection.

I applied to six business schools last fall and received a rejection notice from each one of them.  I read my last rejection letter on my iPhone 4, on a boat, watching the sunset over the islands of Ko Phi Phi, Thailand with, “It Aint Over til its Over” playing in the background.  Seriously.

For the first time in my life, something that I devoted countless hours, effort, and energy into turned out to produce zero yield.  I had sown all the seeds only to find nothing at harvest time.  The timeline of milestones to be achieved each year of my life was suddenly smashed into pieces, as it would be another long year before I could reapply to business school for the fall of 2014.

I went through the phases one by one: Shock, Denial, Despair, Reflection, Planning for the Next Steps.

Finally I just internalized it.  I failed, I will have to reapply next year, and I likely will not finish my graduate degree until I’m bordering 30 years of age.  Not exactly the shining star of achievement I had envisioned myself to be.

This made me realize a very important life lesson: In life, you will fail, and you have to be OK with it.

The timeline you have in your head for all the milestones you want to achieve probably wont go as planned.  All the goals you plan to meet won’t be met.  You will fail, likely countless times.  And it’ll hurt.  This failure wasn’t all darkness however, as it breathed some patience into my heart.  I realized that I don’t need to dedicate 24x7x365 chasing tomorrow’s dreams.  I can let things come as they come.  Hence my screaming ambition has been given one year of silence – 2013.

I feel like sometimes we spend so much time living in tomorrow that we forget to appreciate all of today’s benefits.  Millennials, myself included, are obsessed with this idea of dreaming big, changing the world, fame, fortune, meaningful work, status, and being unique from the rest.  Not that any of these things are necessarily bad, but as my favorite Egyptian recently expressed to me, “We spend so much time chasing career, that we forget everything else in life.”

I’ve unfortunately restarted working again and am in the grueling GMAT & Business School application process… once again.  May this be the final time.  And may I stop living in tomorrow and appreciate today just a little bit more.