28 Things I Learned or Did This Year

28 things I've learned or done since my last birthday, in no particular order. 

Photo by Kyle Kesterson

1. I met someone. And I let myself fall in love, after a long time of having walls up-- see last year's post on distancing behaviors.  He threw me an amazing birthday party-- see ^above^ for evidence that I didn't hate it. 

2. I launched and managed a new market for my company WeWork, as the City Lead for Seattle. After many long days, extra event-food pounds, inspiring moments, lessons learned the hard way, tens of thousands of emails, partnerships forged, and deeply valuable experiences collected, December happily marks one year for me with this company. I get to do cool shtuff like be on NPR and sponsor nonprofits and throw mega parties. Most importantly, and very much in alignment with my personal values, it's my job to build community and create value for hundreds of smart, passionate people building things in Seattle. YAY. 

3. I watched my 90-year-old Grandpa dance to Call Me Maybe with my dad at my cousin's wedding. Oh my MATZOH BALLS I wish I had video to post. 

Grandpa may look placid in this moment, but Carly Rae makes him cray. 

4. I got lost in the desert with no water and no reception, past sundown. I was out of my comfort zone and {this} close to sleeping in a cave. 

Photo by Kyle Kesterson, also lost

5. I rode a helicopter into the Grand Canyon and had a champagne picnic by the river. Behind this smirky-ish expression is the truth of my uncool excitement: "NEEEEAAATTTT! Grand Canyawn!" 

Photo by Kyle Kesterson. Choppa video below via my iPhone. 

6. I went to Vegas for my sister's Dirty Thirty birthday party. If you had told me ten years ago that Anna would want to go drink in Vegas for her bday, you could have knocked me over with a spork. 

7. I delivered a fidgety talk at the Pike Place Market Theater about quitting ultimate. 

Live storytelling event Flatball Radio, created by Matt Mastrantuono. 

8. And then I... unquittingly competed at the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships in Italy with the Korea team. The Czechs gave us smoked cheese. The Turks have my vote for most spirited. The Israelis gifted me an MVP trucker hat. 


9. I competed with my Seattle mixed team, D'oh, at the Ultimate Frisbee Club National Championships in Texas. We tried to make "casual elite" work, in the way of having elite caliber players put in a casual amount of work, buuut, we placed last. Still, I'd do it again. :) 


10. I worked on my relationship with Conflict. I belong to a professional women's salon that meets monthly, and our discussions lately have focused on navigating conflict gracefully. One takeaway, thanks to Channing (a biz coach and hero of mine): 

4 magic phrases you can use to respond to anything anyone says to you: That's interesting, tell me more. That's interesting, why would you say that? That's interesting, why would you do that? That's interesting, why would you ask me that? 

Long-time conflict-avoidant me is slowly leveling up. Which came in to play when... 

11. For the first time, I let an employee go. Or rather, I made it clear we didn't have a future and gave them the opportunity to resign. I learned a lot from this experience despite how emotionally trying it was for all involved. To name a few nuggets:

  • Clarity around my management style
  • Red flags to look for when hiring
  • The prudence of frequent and kindly firm corrective conversations versus letting Drift happen
  • The idea that there is always accountability on both sides, but there is a limit to the responsibility we can take for other people's experiences 
  • The interplay of clarity and curiosity when communicating difficult messages

I know this experience will improve my performance as a manager and hope this experience will improve this person's success in their next opportunity. 

12. I discovered how much I want to be the best boss you've ever had. Like, mug-worthy. 

Illustration by David Wykes

I want to coach/coax the best from teams and empower leaders, facilitate the leanest action-oriented meetings, eliminate blockers, optimize workflow, operate with transparency, and adjust course with clear leadership; I want to perform professionally at the highest level. I am hungry for these skills and invite instruction. I'm on the lookout for an executive coach that would be a great fit. 

13. Dear Mint.com, I'd like to save for retirement and for a house.

Dear Gina, OK, here's the plan: just put aside more money each month than you even make.

Dear Mint.com: 

Riiiiiiight. How do people do this? 

14. I dedicated an entire weekend to a Getting Things Done productivity makeover. Here's a treasure trove o' tips

15. I was Chewbacca for Halloween. The antithesis of sexy, my wrist-to-ankles oversized bearsuit was hot and scratchy, and my Rrrrrr-ghghghghghg needs some serious work. So far it's plateaued at a middling rrrrrrrruh. 

Photo by Amy Galbraith

Photo by Amy Galbraith

16. I was part of the leadership for the second annual Seattle Startup Week. After founding it last year, I gave my baby to the nonprofit UP Global and learned some tough lessons in navigating the handoff of something you've founded and are very emotionally invested in.

17. I did more public speaking, from sharing personal stories at a life hacking workshop to participating in the Seattle Economic Development Council's panel on Scaling Up Your Startup. Every time I do it I get a little less choked by self-consciousness and a little more present. It's hard to focus on what you're saying out loud when your critical inner monologue is louder. 

18. "Everybody's going to laugh at me." WHO exactly is every body? Name your Everybody Committee. 

Your inner critic is the amalgamation of a few specific people- your projections of their judgments. Usually you put mean, judgey people on your committee. You have the power to high-kick em off and replace them with personal cheerleaders. 

I find this humerus. 

I find this humerus. 

19. I went to my 10 year high school reunion in Portland. Fun. Awkward. Fascinating. 

The Posse circa 2004, the year of the hemp choker

The Posse circa 2004, the year of the hemp choker

The Posse (incomplete) circa 2014. 2004 Instagram filter applied.

The Posse (incomplete) circa 2014. 2004 Instagram filter applied.

20. Sometimes people who've known us for a long time- particularly family members- have an outdated conception of us. This can be frustrating when we feel we've evolved past that version of ourselves. Dear Mom, I eat red meat now, I budget, and I floss! Please update your files. 

21. I took trapeze lessons in Vegas while at the UP Global Summit. 

22. A friend became seriously ill, and I realized I wanted her to support me. I wanted her to tell me how I could help and reassure me it would be ok- both so I would feel better. Ring Theory says: send your support inward and your requests for support outward. 

23. I was accepted into the ranks of Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. 

24. I helped the HB2023 crowdfunding bill pass and was present at the signing with Governor Inslee. Washington state startups & businesses can now crowd-finance up to $1M annually from state residents.  

25. I declare when I am grumpy. It lets people know I'm feeling sensitive, it's not them, it's temporary, and simultaneously asks for an extra measure of grace. Handy, no? A Channing Pro Tip: if ever you're feeling emotionally pained in a professional setting, you can say you have a headache. People understand physical pain and react to it in a less charged, less judgmental way. "I have a headache this morning, so please excuse me if I seem a bit distracted." 

26. I found a quote I like that helped reframe the way I think about relationships. Rather than "I'll take care of you if you take care of me", it's "I'll take care of me for you, and you take care of you for me." We can meet each other's needs best if we can make sure our own needs are met. This often involves asking for what we need.

27. I learned about habit formation and meditated for 5 minutes a day. I made a small goal of just 5 mins, I anchored the new habit to something I do every day (peeing in the morning), tried to stay connected to the greater purpose of my habit (poise throughout my day), set up external scaffolding to support the habit (a reminder on a sticky note in my bathroom, a text to a friend who was expecting it), and praised and rewarded myself every time I was successful in actually doing it. 

Happy New Year's Resolutioning! 

28. I helped a startup, and this was their thanks: my name in lights! 

Photo by Deehubs