Thirty One

The first year of my thirties was both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. I started a new decade and a new role as CEO at the same time, and at Automattic we grew to over 300 people and raised money for the first time in a while, both of which I couldn’t have predicted five or even two years ago.

My big takeaway from the year was the importance of habits and small actions for accomplishing big things. To be productive I don’t need any fancy setups or project management software, just a well-groomed todo list and a pomodoro timer. This year on my birthday I find myself in Egypt which is an awe-inspiring place in many ways, but most striking to me has been the enduring beauty of craftsmanship with access to only the simplest of tools.

In running, which I started this past summer while in Italy, I was able to slow down to go further and without injury, and ended up putting in about 140 miles which took my fitness to be better than it’s been so far in my adult life. At least half of those miles were with friends and you can’t underestimate the importance of friends in helping you overcome mental blocks. (Also flew 425k miles in 2014, a new record. You can run anywhere and with minimal equipment — it’s a great way to explore a city.)

Reading and writing, two of the activities still most important to me, benefitted from a “just do it” philosophy of putting one foot in front of the other. I published more words on ma.tt than any year since 2007, and I find blogging one of the most rewarding pastimes in my life. It was also a year of not trying to be all business all the time: I started reading fiction regularly after a decade away and letting the topics here drift wherever my interest is at the moment. Last year I talked about balance, and I think this is what drove many of the accomplishments I’m looking back on fondly now.

I’m proud of how 2014 went, and I hope to build on that foundation to be a better person and reach even more ambitious milestones in the year to come. Here’s to slowing down to go further, and tackling big tasks with friends.

Previously: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29, 30.

What’s in My Bag, 2014

As the start of a new year’s tradition, I’d like to take inventory of what I carry around in my backpack, which I have with me almost everywhere I go. I’m constantly iterating and changing what I carry around, so I hope it’s interesting to see this vignette of what I’ve found to be the best or most effective items to have with me all the time. With the things in this backpack I can be productive pretty much any place on the planet with a wifi or LTE connection.

  1. Kensington international adapter, I like this one because it has two USB ports, but every adapter I’ve used seems a little janky.
  2. Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 with charging case, as I mentioned in my headphones post.
  3. Kindle Voyage. Love love love.
  4. 64gb USB stick.
  5. Lockpick set.
  6. Apple Thunderbolt / VGA adapter. (I can probably stop carrying this around.)
  7. Samsung Level Over, as I mentioned in my headphones post.
  8. Macbook power adapter, and Moto Hint bluetooth headset.
  9. Audrey Hepburn deck of playing cards, and business card holder. The last few items are on a Gridit holder, which I like but seems to drop items as I walk around.
  10. Macally double USB charger, which I like because the plug pivots, and it can charge an iPad at full speed.
  11. Thunderbolt to thunderbolt cable, which is great for transferring between computers, and Belkin audio cable splitter, with an old Beats cable wrapped around which I use with the Samsung headphones.
  12. Retractable HMDI cable.
  13. Garmin chest strap heart rate monitor, for running.
  14. Miscellaneous retractable cables: Jawbone UP24 charger (not using the UP at the moment, just the Basis), 1/8th inch audio cable, ethernet CAT5e, USB mini type B.
  15. Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom, with a gold cord taco.
  16. Jetpack notebook for taking analog notes.
  17. Some bag balm in a little plastic holder, an Aveda Blue Oil that I find relaxing, and some Advil for when ouches happen.
  18. TP-LINK TL-WR702N Wireless N150 Travel Router, which works so-so.
  19. Chargers for the two watches.
  20. Mpow Streambot Mini Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Audio Music Streaming Receiver Adapter.
  21. Apple Magic Mouse, still the best.
  22. Moto X second generation, with walnut back and orange highlights.
  23. Not pictured, iPhone 6+, because it took the picture, space grey of course.
  24. Miscellaneous swag and trinkets, and a T-mobile SIM card.
  25. Maison Bonnet sunglasses and cleaning cloth.
  26. Lamy Pico Pocket Ballpoint pen.
  27. Brand new passport! No stamps in it yet. Unfortunately picture was taken when I was still in the mustache competition.
  28. Basis Peak watch, which I like a lot overall.
  29. Garmin Forerunner 620, for quantifying running along with the chest strap in #13.
  30. Westone ES49 custom earplugs, for if I go to concerts or anyplace overly loud.
  31. Bucky eye shades, like an eye mask but has a curve so it doesn’t touch your eyes. I don’t use this often but when I do it’s a life-saver.
  32. Retina Macbook Pro, 15 inch, with a few stickers and the custom W light cut-out.
  33. The bag that holds everything pictured: Old School Laptop Rucksack. I wish it had a few more interior pockets for organizing things. It’s starting to get pretty worn, I probably need to treat the leather on the bottom.
  34. Not pictured: Incase dual USB 2.4 amp car charger, a Belkin car mount, and a retractable lightning cable. (They were in the car when I took this.)

So if you add it all up, there are about 53 unique items I’m carrying around all the time. I’m curious how this total number changes over time as well. If you have any recommendations for a better, lighter, or more functional item than what I’m carrying please leave it in the comments!