Summer 2013: A Retrospective

Before I dive in, let me say that one thing I hate about myself is that I've never really been able to live in the moment. I plan everything in advance, live it for a few moments, think deeply about those few moments I lived, and then think deeply about the whole process. And then think about it again as I write about it. And then again as I read what I wrote about it. Probably 10% of my life, max, is actually living said life. That being said, I can't really help it. I just naturally, massively over-think everything. Rather than try to stifle that, I'm trying to channel it into a productive outlet in this blog. My hope is that one day someone else will benefit from my introspective misery.


The summer was great! Every summer since 2010 -- when I failed to get a job, lost my grandfather, and was too anxious about starting the rest of my life to do anything productive -- has been great. I spent this one mostly in the Bay Area and travelling less than normal, but I visited Los Angeles in June and I'm leaving for a massive adventure in less than two days. San Francisco to New York City to Amsterdam to Nairobi, and then a safari all around Kenya and Tanzania, before doubling back to NYC and shlepping up to Ithaca.

I worked full time as a researcher for Russell Reynolds Associates, about which I can't speak highly enough. Everyone was so energetic about their work, brilliant, well-educated, and funny, to boot. It was a fantastic experience and I learned a ton. Learning a lot on the job was my #1 goal for the summer and I'm really grateful to my awesome research team for helping so earnestly. They took me under their wing and taught me all about Russell Reynolds and business in general.

Another big project was getting fit. I slowed a little bit with the program I'm on, You Are Your Own Gym, but I stuck to it about 90% of the time and made some obvious gains, especially in balance and leg strength. I also (sort-of) made it through the most difficult workout of my entire life last week which felt amazing to do. I was high off of it for two days afterward. It was 20 minutes of constant exercise, rotating through sets of 8 pull ups (which I can't even do by itself), 6 dive bombers, and 12 one-legged squats. Just brutal.

I've had pretty good success with working on this blog. It looks better than ever and I've dumped just an insane amount of content out there. Don't expect this to continue through the coming semester, but I do plan on putting out content about twice a week going forward. I want to get a real trove of content up before I worry about SEO and marketing. My hope is to average three posts a week in general, so that when people do find this site, its quality will be too good to ignore.

Another thing that makes me proud -- which might be against the rules for it! -- was meditation. I've made it a rock-solid habit, my body loves it, and it's just had a overwhelming positive impact on my life. I was a classic Kagan-ian high-reactive kid, and although I've never needed to be treated for anxiety, I don't do well with stress. As you may know, I had nightmarish GI problems in high school which I'm pretty sure were caused by stress. I've come a long way from that, but the meditation has brought me to the next level. It's made me more aware of when there are environmental stressors around me and when I'm having anxious thoughts. I automatically go right into focused breathing and get through it. I've managed my pathological fear of needles with it, I've learned to work in an open cubicle in an open office, and to stay calm when others are angry and frustrated. Between the meditation, working on my posture, and down-talking, I actually got to the point where I my boss cautioned me against acting so cocky. If someone had told me that would happen four years ago, I would have laughed in her face. Feels good, man.

The last big gain for the summer was learning personal finance for the first time and getting everything in place. I got a credit card, transferred my childhood savings to my own name, opened up CDs, bought some mutual funds, established an IRA, and put together a budget. I also learned a ton about investing, the markets, economics, and statistics. I want to thank my dad for all his help with this. It was as much his accomplishment in helping me with it as mine in doing it.

I puttered along on a few other projects: decluttering all my accumulated childhood crap, quitting sugar, turning screens off by 9pm, putting out a video blog, upping my protein intake, building up my upper body strength, reading hella books, getting plans in place for the Lunatic, and working on my friend Rachel's and my baller, top-secret startup idea. I've got a long way to go on all of these. Good thing I'm not dead yet.

It was also an awesome summer for doing cool stuff. My parents and I took a cruise out on the Bay to see the Louis Vutton Cup where we saw Oracle Team USA and got no more than a 100 meters from Emirates Team New Zealand doing a time trial. I hit up BFD, where I finally caught up with The Airborne Toxic Event there, who played a mindblowing set. I saw Owen Cook and Robert Lustig, two groundbreaking geniuses in their respective fields, give talks in San Francisco. I tired Burmese food for the first time. I visited my favorite, and only, first cousin who is now 2 and as beautiful as ever. Damn, I love that girl.

It was a really, really good summer. And now I'm off to Africa.