Tag Archives: passions

How a Social Media Nerd Proposes to his Girlfriend

29 Jun

On January 29, 2011 I proposed to my girlfriend Ashley overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco and invited all of my friends (and the internet) to watch as I did it. I love my fiancé Ashley. I also love the internet and social media. So, naturally, when it came time for me to propose to my girlfriend I decided to combine the two, and who doesn’t love hearing about (I think) creative ways of proposing? Here’s how it went down.
One week before the planned date my accomplice Lucas and I performed a reconnaissance mission to the planned location Hendrik Point on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was warm and sunny making for a picture perfect sunset across the Pacific’s horizon. Unfortunately, this weather would not remain through the week and would be replaced by cold rain and blustery wind. We tested the internet connection of our mobile hotspot and planned out each step I would take including the exact spot where I would drop the knee. After coming up with a few alternative scenarios just in case, we left, not to return for one week for go time.
That week, Lucas and I would meet after work and begin working on the specifics of the plan. First, we needed a platform where all the elements would live and where I could point everyone to go during the day. For that, we used a basic Tumblrtheme with a few custom modifications thanks to Lucas. I titled the site “Project:Proposal” and we began adding features.

Layout of the Tumblr site we created

At the top of the page we added a custom Google map that would be constantly updating our location throughout the day as we drove around San Francisco. Below that was a window for a slideshow of pictures that would automatically be updated as I took pictures using the Smug Mug iPhone app. Underneath the slideshow was a space for me to update the blog with status updates and/or videos. And finally, there was an embedded Ustream window which would be broadcasting the proposal live from the location in San Francisco. Once the day arrived I would use Hootsuite to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts throughout the day pointing everyone to the Tumblr page, which would also have an introduction video of me explaining the proposal plan.
You might be thinking to yourself “how did you insure that she wouldn’t get tipped off from her friends who had seen your status updates?”. This proved to be a challenge that almost became a deal breaker for the entire plan. Lucas and I brainstormed several different ways of getting ‘phone control’ as we called it. Ideas ranged from tricking her into forgetting it somewhere to straight up stealing it. We made an attempt the night before to cut off all the power to the place where she lived in hopes that her battery would be dead without enough time to charge it. This failed horribly and ended up just cutting the power to the rest of the house where she lived. We decided to take a drastic measure that Lucas brilliantly came up with. Knowing that Ashley’s mom was the account holder for her cell phone service, I called her and told her to call AT&T and temporarily ‘disable’ Ashley’s phone AND set a new password different than the main account password so Ashley wouldn’t be able to re-enable her phone.
The day finally arrived and I woke up to a HeyTell message from Ashley explaining that her phone wasn’t working. Excellent. With status updates locked and loaded, an iPad 3G tracking our location, and my iPhone ready to snap pictures, we left for San Francisco. Oh and I had the ring too. As I kept Ashley distracted window shopping and eating lunch, I anxiously looked at my watch as the time approached for the first status update to launch. Within five minutes of the first status going out I got a text message wishing me luck on my proposal. “Great” I thought, “I didn’t account for this”. Now I couldn’t let Ashley use my phone at the risk of someone sending me another text message or phone call. This wasn’t that easy because she constantly was asking for my phone in order to try and figure out the issue with her phone service. Using coded messages, Lucas kept me updated with the status of everything throughout the day. Things were, considering all the elements involved, going smoothly.
The time approached for us to cross the bridge and head up to ‘the spot’. I was sick to my stomach because I was so nervous. I told her I knew of this “cool spot” where you could see the whole city. After crossing the bridge and driving up the hill, I parked the car and, ever so carefully, hid the ring in my coat pocket. Unlike the week before when the weather was warm and calm, today was drizzly, windy, and cold. It took some convincing on my part to persuade Ashley to actually get out of the car into the blustery elements.

Ashley had no idea she would be engaged within 5 minutes

We walked up to the spot and out of the corner of my eye I could see Lucas and his girlfriend Amy in their positions quietly and inconspicuously following us with a video camera live streaming the whole thing (Lucas wore a hat and Amy wore a wig to guarantee Ashley wouldn’t notice them. I have dedicated friends). I carefully guided her along my predetermined route keeping her attention away from Lucas and Amy and then I had one last picture taken of us to be uploaded to the site.

We continued walking and landed on my mark. I told Ashley I had something to show her and brought out my phone and played a slideshow of pictures from our 1 year anniversary. After the slideshow was finished I turned Ashley towards me said my sweet nothings to her, reached into my pocket, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. As you can see in the video, she was very, very, surprised and excited. And so was I, so much so, I forgot to put the ring actually on her finger and she asked me “aren’t you supposed to put the ring on?” and I responded “I don’t know, I’ve never done this before!”. After getting the ring on her finger and sharing some hugs and kisses I pointed over to where Lucas and Amy were positioned and they came out and handed Ashley roses and me a bottle of champagne.
Project:Proposal was a success and Ashley and I were officially engaged to be married! Once everyone watching was sure she, had in fact said ‘yes’, text messages started pouring in with congratulations and well-wishes (and also a few shout-out requests for the camera as it was still broadcasting live). I was excited everything went so smoothly AND she said yes! So excited, I shook up the champagne bottle and completely didn’t take into consideration the wind and exploded the champagne directly into a headwind all over myself and my new bride-to-be. It was a newbish move, but we had a good laugh (and so did everyone still watching live). That day, five months ago today, Ashley said “yes”, and one month from today, Ashley will say “I do”, and I cant wait.

Watch the recorded proposal video here

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The Golden Circle – It’s All About the ‘Why’

19 Feb

I will intentionally go out of my way to tell people why Apple products are superior to any other product on the market. I will (and have) wait in line for eight hours outside an Apple store in order to purchase the new iPhone even though I can purchase one a week later with no line. I will pay on average 25% more money for an Apple product as opposed to a comparable non-Apple product, with a smile on my face. I will gladly suffer many inconveniences caused by Apple products and not hold it against them for a moment. What’s more, I am not the only person who does this. There are millions of Apple fanatics who do the same thing or more! Why?

According to Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, a book I just recently read, the answer is that Apple understands ‘why’ they do what they do. It is this understanding of ‘why’ that

Simok Sinek - Author of "Start with Why"

allows Apple, or any other company following their ‘why’, to be so successful and command such a dedicated following. Sinek argues in his book “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and he calls this principle the “Golden Cirlce”. I think it is very profound and is something a lot of organizations miss.

The Golden Circle Explained:

Imagine a target. It has three rings. The outer most ring is the ‘what’, followed by the ‘how’ ring, and lastly the ‘why’ ring in the middle. Sinek says that most organizations start with the ‘what’ and work their way in to the ‘why’. Companies always tell their customers ‘what’ they do first and not ‘why’ they do what they do.

The Golden Circle

For example, if Apple were to start with ‘what’ they do their marketing message could say “we make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly, want to buy one?”. This is not exactly the most convincing or inspiring sales message ever heard. In fact, it sounds a lot like most other companies and sales pitches explaining ‘what’ they do instead of ‘why’ they do it. Here’s more like what Apple’s marketing message sounds like: “everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently, the way we challenge the status quo is we make our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly, we just happen to make great computers, want to buy one?” All that really changed here is the order of reasons you should buy a computer, going from ‘why’ they do what they do, to ‘what’ they do. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This helps explain why people like me will do seemingly absurd things like wait in line for eight hours to buy an iPhone the day it comes out! I don’t do all those things simply because Apple makes beautifully designed computers that are easy to use and user friendly, although that does go into my decision, the real reason I buy from Apple is because I identify with their ‘why’. Like Apple, I too want to challenge the status quo, I don’t want the products that everyone else has or that are built all the same way, I want something that is bigger than that and that is why I buy Apple products. I believe, and literally buy into their mission for creating products. The Golden Circle principle is powerful.

To further the point of the Golden Circle, if Apple’s mission was not ‘to challenge the status quo’ and was instead ‘build computers’ it would make no sense for them to have made some of the decisions they have made. However, through this filter, it makes sense why Apple would move into other industries outside of the computer industry, they are ‘challenging the status quo’. What business does a computer company have being in the MUSIC industry? That is unless they were a company set on ‘challenging the status quo’ and then it makes perfect sense why a company like Apple would go into the music industry…to challenge the status quo! The same could be said about the cell phone industry and Apple’s iPhone. It is within their mission of ‘challenging the status quo’ to move into those industries. So much so that in 2007 Apple changed their name from Apple Computers, Inc. to Apple, Inc. Makes sense because they are not just a computer company.

History is littered with examples of companies that lost their ‘why’. In his book, Sinek tells the story of the railroad industry in the late 19th century which was dominating the transportation industry at the time. All of these companies defined themselves by ‘what’ they did and not ‘why’ they did it. They would say “I am in the railroad business” and that was enough for the short term. However, the beginning of the 20th century introduced new transportation options, such as the car and later the airplane, eventually crippling the railroad industry. Now, had the railroad industry defined themselves as being in the “people transportation” business, they could have noticed emerging technology and followed trends leading them to adapt and move into the car or airplane business and thus still thrive through the 20th century.

The Golden Circle principle is profound and not only for business, but for many different facets of life. Relationships, work, religion, and money can all be filtered through asking ourselves why? The more I think about the Golden Circle principle the more I find myself asking ‘why?’ Why do I do this or that, or why don’t I do this or that. Doing this has allowed me to focus on the important things (the things I know ‘why’) and question other things (the things I don’t know ‘why’). Simon Sinek gave a presentation at a TED conference a few years ago (embedded below) and this is where I first came across his Golden Circle principle. I would highly suggest checking it out, as well as his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
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Project : Proposal

29 Jan

Today I am proposing to my lovely girlfriend Ashley! I’m not only proposing, but I am including friends and family who can’t be there in on the fun. I love Ashley, technology, and social media so I have decided to blend all of those things together into my marriage proposal. My friend Lucas and I created a makeshift website that will serve as the portal in which others can share in the experience.

On the site you will see:

– Video of me explaining the project

– Map of our location throughout the day

– Automatically uploaded pictures from my iPhone throughout the day

– Live stream of the actual proposal (approximately happening at 5 PM)

Go to the Project : Proposal site here and enjoy being part of my proposal!

Twitter Love

1 Oct

I am fascinated with social media. I am especially fond of Twitter. Many of my friends have asked me why I enjoy Twitter so much and in an effort to explain myself more thoroughly I deemed it worthy of writing a blog post about it.

For those of you un-aware of the 120 million active user website called Twitter, let me briefly explain what it is. Twitter is a website where you have 140 characters to answer the question ‘what’s happening?’ and each answer, or Tweet, is ‘delivered’ to all those who follow you. Those who follow you can read your Tweet and respond by re-Tweeting your message, or replying to what you had to say. You can also choose to follow other people who answer the same question and interact and engage with them as well. This may seem like an unnecessary tool and a great waste of time, but I would disagree with you and here is why.

First of all, Twitter is not just status updates. It is that, and it is so much more, and it is the so much more aspect of Twitter that is why I think it is such a great tool. One of the things I love about Twitter is that it is unique to everyone. The people who I follow and am interested in are not going to be the same people you follow and are interested in. For example: I love technology, entrepreneurs, and cycling so I follow a lot of people associated with those things and thus get updated with information regarding all those topics. On the other hand, my brother is obsessed with baseball and music and follows lots of musicians, athletes, managers, announcers, etc. So both my brother and I follow different people (with some overlap) and get very different things out of Twitter.

For me, what I enjoy most about Twitter is the content I come across. Because of the people I follow, and the content they share, I read a lot of really interesting articles, blogs, and amazing videos all ‘customized’ to my interests. It’s also a great way to interact and keep up to date with friends in a very easy and streamlined way.

I think the best way to explain how awesome this can be is to share what kind of experiences I have had because of Twitter. Although these are unique experiences and something not necessarily every person experiences, I still think it helps explain why I enjoy Twitter.

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

Like I said, I enjoy cycling and follow people who are involved with cycling. The most famous cyclist being Lance Armstrong who also happens to be an avid Tweeter. Last September Lance updated his Twitter saying he would be in L.A. and asked all his followers in the area to go on a

 

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

 

bike ride with him the following day. Since I lived a short distance away, my friend Corey and I woke up really early and drove to Griffith Park where we met up with 500 of Lances local followers for a bike ride. We rode for about 2 hours during which I made my way to the front and snapped a picture of Lance as we were riding. I also took some video while he was leaving right in front of me. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Special Events

I also follow John Mayer who was also a devoted Tweeter. Last Summer he Tweeted that he was going to play an impromptu set at Hotel Café in Hollywood and tickets were only $5. When my friends and I read about this we rushed over to Hollywood, found parking, ran to Hotel Café and were met with a long line

 

Paparazzi Taking Pictures of John Mayer

 

of people and a sold out Hotel Cafe. Although we didn’t get to see the concert, we did hang out with some paparazzi and when John did come we snapped some photos. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Products

One of the people I follow is an entrepreneur in the tech industry who said in a tweet that he had found the best case he has seen available for the iPad and shared a link to the website. Having just purchased an iPad and unsatisfied with the cases currently available, I clicked on the link he had posted which led me to the DODOcase website. It was love at first site and exactly what I was looking for for my new iPad. Because of that person tweeting about that case I purchased it. It’s an awesome case that I love and I purchased it all because of Twitter. (I even wrote a blog post about how much I love the case).

Keeping Companies Accountable

I also really love that more and more businesses are joining Twitter in order to connect with their customers more and promote their business. What this also does is give us consumers a direct line of communication to the company to voice our opinions (good or bad). In my case, it was bad. After a VERY unfavorable experience with a certain gym (BALLYS TOTAL FITNESS) I decided to see if they happened to be active on social media. They were and I was happy to see it. I told all 150 of my followers on Twitter and all 650 of my friends on Facebook how Bally’s Total Fitness has the worst customer service (it’s true, they do) and to NEVER join their gym (seriously don’t). This led to their social media person contacting me on both Twitter and Facebook to try and solve the issue. After many back-and-forths the issue, of course, was not resolved and I am still very dissatisfied and still very pissed. That said, although Bally’s Total Fitness is an awful example of a company doing social media well, it has been interesting to see how businesses are using Twitter (good or bad). Companies are held accountable and it’s awesome and it’s all thanks to social media (including Twitter). I really think Twitter is great for business, which I will save for another post.

 

Update (10/07): Here is that other post about social media and business.

Deals

Not one of my favorite uses of Twitter but something that a lot of people are interested in are the freebies you can gain from Twitter. In an effort to gain more followers, many companies will have drawings to give away products (seems to always be an iPad) to people who follow them and retweet their message. I have never won one of these contests nor has anyone I know, but that could be reason enough for people to get something out of Twitter. This is maybe thanks to Twitter.

Make Money

Making money using Twitter can happen in many different ways and people are still finding out really interesting ways to do so. I never have myself, but I have read and thoroughly enjoy reading how people have done it. One story I recently came across (through Twitter) was how an indie musician made $19,000 in 10 hours using Twitter. That is REALLY awesome and all thanks to Twitter.

Like I said, these experiences are fairly unique and more than anything they’re just really…cool. Even if I had not experienced these things I still would value Twitter because of all of the content I gain from it. I’m not talking about viral YouTube videos, but actual content that, for me, has seriously impacted me in significant ways. Not so much because of the individual tweets themselves, but for the places that the tweets lead me to on the internet, such as articles, blogs, breaking news, etc. Lot’s of people don’t see the point of social media and Twitter and that’s fine, but for me it is something that really interests me.

While Twitter is a great way to find interesting things and connect with people, actually connecting with people in real life is way better. So let’s not stop doing that.

If you’re unsure of how to get started and are really interested in Twitter or other social media I would suggest going The Yellow Sandbox to learn more about how to get started with social media.

Use Twitter? Have any cool experiences come from using Twitter? Let me know in the comments.

Dust to Dust: A Theology of Death & Dying

23 Aug

This week I decided to have a guest writer for my blog post. I took part in the making of a short film used as a school project last semester and I thought the project was not only very well made but also had a great message as well. My friend Greg wrote, directed, and edited the project and I was the “lead”, if you will. Take the time to watch the video below and then read what Greg had to say about the meaning of the movie. Greg is an excellent writer so if you don’t feel like watching the video you can come back to it later and read what he wrote now, you won’t be disappointed.



I am Greg (did you catch the allusion?). Colby asked me to make an appearance on his blog to write about a short film we made together (along with Matthew Rongey and Ashley Garcia). My role, I suppose, would be that of writer and director, but Matt and Colby are the true film nerds who made the technical stuff happen. And Ashley deserves all the credit since she drove to La Mirada all the way from Santa Barbara just to help out (and to see Colby, I guess).

The film is about death if you haven’t picked up on the theme yet. It was the final project for a capstone class at Biola University entitled “Jesus, Lord of All.” At the end of a semester-long study about death and dying, I was given an assignment in which I had the freedom to say whatever I wanted by whatever creative avenue I wanted. Throughout the semester, I read just about every stance, philosophy, and approach to the subject of death and its effects, from Hindu reincarnation to evolutionary natural selection to vague spiritual estimations. I read both emotionally charged essays by parents who lost children in horrific events and academic treatments that approached death like it was Algebra. After all this, I really only wanted to say one thing: The Bible is right in its understanding of and approach to death.

The Bible is the only source that offers a completely holistic explanation of death. In other words, it gives death’s entire story, beginning to end. It does not just speculate about what comes after death nor does it simply offer tidy solutions about getting beyond its pain. It addresses everything about death, from its origins to its universal inevitability to its defeat. It was this story that I wanted to communicate in the film. It has basically four parts, which I will try to survey very quickly below.

Part One: The Origins

Death’s story begins with life. We were created to have and enjoy life, to have relationships, and to experience wholeness. We were made to understand death as a foreign concept. We destroyed this by rebelling against God. Granted, Satan stands in front of the pointed finger as well, but it really is our own fault. We were the ones to seat death at its table in our world. As a result of our rebellion, we were subjected to death and its minions. God, the one who had every right to abandon us and leave us to death’s wishes, began his pursuit of humanity at the moment of our fall.

Part Two: The Pain

From there, the pain and fear is not ignored. The Old Testament writers were plagued with worry over death. It was the evil of all evils and was the thing from which Israel longed to be delivered. The Pslamists were constantly asking God for deliverance from death and praising him when it happened. The wicked are associated with death and those who do evil find their destination to be death. Nowhere does the Bible tone down or paint over the absolute atrocity that death really is.

Part Three: Jesus

One definite pattern in the Old Testament is that the deeper the sorrow over wickedness, the deeper the advent for redemption. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the object of that advent. Jesus is the culmination and climax of death’s story. He not only brings the solution, but is himself the solution. He does not come to make pithy statements that bring false comfort and hope, sending us only into a deeper state of confusion. Rather, he takes the burden of death and the sting of death onto himself, as he is the only one who has the power to defeat it. And defeat it he does. On the cross, Jesus goes to war with Satan, the father of death. Jesus is raised from the dead signifying his victory over death and leaving a bitter taste in Satan’s mouth.

Part Four: Kingdom Life

During his time on Earth, Jesus inaugurates, or establishes, a kingdom of which he is the King. The inaugural address was his work on the cross and subsequent resurrection that allowed him to call the shots. When a person enters by faith into the kingdom, death is diminished and its power is removed. He no longer needs to fear his own earthly death as uncertain and frightening, but comes under the kingship of Jesus where death cannot enter. He can live like Jesus did and walk out to meet his own death knowing full well that it’s not the end. The Kingdom of Jesus is an earthly reality lived out through the Holy Spirit that offers comfort, hope, restoration, and joy in the midst of any of life’s circumstances. Those who live in the kingdom are strangers on the earth, anticipating the day when the full weight and glory of Jesus’ kingdom is theirs forever.

In sum, the Bible shows us the true face of death. It explains that it was our own wrongdoing that allowed this pain to enter. It does not deny that death hurts or that death is an evil thing and tells how God promises deliverance from death for his people. Jesus comes as God in human form and defeats death through his work on the cross, taking the punishment for sin and rebellion on himself. He is raised from the death and his eternal kingdom is established as the sole refuge from death.

Hope you enjoy the film and take away something valuable!


Greg is one of my best friends who I attended college with and who will be my friend for life. Also,  I have had the great satisfaction of being his roommate for the last two years. You can follow his Twitter here or his personal blog here.

Unemployed College Grad

16 Aug

Graduation day. Full of excitement and unemployed.

My Current Project

I just graduated college in one of the worst economic climates of recent years. Just last month, 131,000 jobs have been lost in the United States. Now, hold on. I have a four-year degree from a well-respected private university, getting a job should be no problem, right? WRONG. Let me tell you from a person currently living in the trenches of this job-hunt warfare, it has not been a fun process. I have sent my resume to over fifty potential employers with only a fraction even responding with an email confirmation, let alone an interview opportunity. Now, every time I send my resume somewhere I have the feeling I am sending it into a blackhole never to see it again.  I’m not telling you this so you can feel sorry for me (although, if you know someone hiring, go ahead and feel sorry for me and refer that person to my resume). I’m telling you this to explain my current situation and what I am choosing to do with my spare time to make the most of it (other than writing this blog).

A Brief History

For several years now, I have been very intrigued by the idea of investing in real estate. Growing up, my Dad always told my brothers and I really interesting stories of when he was younger and would invest in real estate with his Dad.  I always thought that that sounded like something fun to do while learning a lot of important lifelong skills and making some money on the side. So, over the past couple of years I started reading real estate investing books, asking questions, and just imagining what that would look like specifically for me. Fast-forward to Fall semester of my senior year of college. I had been learning a lot in my business classes and I wanted to actually apply some of the ideas I had been learning in a real business environment. So, I bought a notebook, called my Dad and asked him how I could get started in real estate investing. At that time, my goal was to purchase a home within a short distance from my school and rent it out to fellow college students. My thinking was that there was a unique opportunity to be had there because I knew the area, I knew the students, and I knew that they would be willing to pay a ‘premium’ price per month because so many people live in one house.

After working seriously towards this goal and working closely with a real estate agent, I began to think what my post-college plans would be. I decided that I would be moving home to the Bay Area after college and with the time constraint of the end of the school year, I decided to hold off on my real estate pursuits until I moved back home. Although I didn’t meet my original goal of buying a house that school year, I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to seriously invest in real estate: A lot of work. Although real estate investing can take on many different forms, when I say “real estate investing” I am more specifically talking about purchasing single family homes that are somewhat distressed, add value to them by fixing them up, and then selling them and, hopefully, if done correctly, making a profit. (Note: I stay away from the term “house-flipping” because that generally has a negative connotation to some and is significantly more risky and usually involves never actually taking ownership of the property.)

Today

Since I have moved back home, my friend Kyle and I met up and came up with a plan to purchase a house to live in while we fix it up and sell it within 12 months. We set an aggressive goal of being in contract to buy a house by September 1st of this year. Since that conversation we have been working hard to learn the market, find our target price, and working closely with a real estate agent. Our focus has been set primarily on bank-owned properties that are in need of some work and have the opportunity to add value to them. While I continue to job search, I spend a considerable amount of my day pursuing real estate investing trying to stay as productive as possible during this unique time of post-graduation-pre-career. So far, we have made offers on two different properties. The first property we made an offer on, the seller (a bank) was not willing to go down to the price we believed the property was worth. The second property we made an offer on we are still waiting to hear back from the seller. That is where Kyle and I currently stand on our current real estate pursuits. I will cover what this looks like on a day-to-day basis for me in a later blog post. For now, I wanted to explain my current situation and how I am trying to make the most out of my time as an unemployed college grad living at my parents house.

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