Alone in a field of grass.
Somewhere in Bourgogne, a rose sits between two thorns.
re:publica 2013 - Mitchell Baker: Building a web we can trust
“An open internet is our best chance to secure social and economic participation in society for all people”, according to Mitchell Baker. But it is precisely this web openness which is in danger and needs to be continually defended. Can and should businesses be able to monitor all of our online activity, store its data, and finally turn it into profit? What possibilities as web users do we have to defend ourselves? Whom does the data belong to, which we generate day after day? It is these type of questions which drive Mitchell Baker and which she addresses at re:publica13.
“I’m not afraid to fall; it means i climbed up high
to fall is not to fail; you fail when you don’t try”
~ Superchick “Get Up”
In the middle of a long text message conversation on my way home on BART I made the comment, “Half the stuff I’m working on now I’ve never ever done. I picked it because I’m most likely to fail at it!”
I blurted that out but was instantly reminded of something @MitchellBaker said (and I’m paraphrasing) ~ “If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you should probably do it.”
Over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time stepping outside my comfort zone. Way outside.
Each time is a total gamble. Each time I risk failure, disgrace, embarrassment.
Because not doing so is absolute failure.
I fell. It hurt.
I understand that failure itself isn’t Failure. “Failure is required” as @cookflix said.
It’s really no different than a child learning to walk. You fall. You get up. You take a step and you fall again. You get up. You keep at it, you keep at that which is important.
As a leader
Over the past year I’ve found myself developing my leadership style, my brand, my way of leading. I’m honing in on who I am. Who @mrz is.
I try very hard to empower others, to encourage, to aim to surround myself with people who can do a better job than I can. People who can stand on my shoulders and do more than I could possibly do. In many ways, I try to delegate as much as I can, to hand off as much as I can.
And I’m more comfortable taking gambles. I know what matters to me (mission, empowerment). I know who matters to me (friends). And within those contexts I feel safe.
I take risks. I put myself out there. I iterate. In the words of @msurman, “Fuck it, ship it.”
You should too.
“Something comes from nothing if you’re willing to believe.”
~ Pillar, “Everything”
A little more than 7 years ago today I was interviewing in Mountain View. I carried a cell phone that could only make phone calls.
7 years ago today I walked into Mozilla’s Landings office and configured my own Thinkpad laptop by myself (we didn’t have Desktop Support).
Two weeks later Mozilla’s company-wide All Hands fit in the back of Tied House. Two months later I moved my wife and two babies from Orange County to Northern California.
Along the way I bought a house and called this home.
7 Years of Change
I’ve gone through 3 CEOs & 3 bosses. My team’s grown from 3 to 80. I manage an IT Operations team. I’m learning how to lead, how to lean into my strengths.
I’ve learned to delegate, to trust, to let go. And I’ve been surprised and impressed at every step by the caliber of people who chose to surround me.
I now have
co-workers friends whose first names I don’t know and who I’ve only met in person less than a handful of times.
Before Mozilla I had only traveled internationally once. For my honeymoon.
I traveled to Nice and stayed with a fellow Mozillian. Half my twitter stream is in Spanish. My arguably best friend lives 8500 miles away.
Along the way I lost my passport.
7 years ago my first smartphone was a Palm Treo running Windows. I now carry three phones & a tablet and saw the future I want last year as Mozilla shifted to Firefox OS. I have — and want — the web in my pocket.
7 Years of Personal Change
My 9 month old daughter is now 7 (or 13, it’s really hard to tell). My son knows how to find my name in about:credits.
I’m deeply focused on being an advocate for Mozilla Webmakers. I care about eliminating the opportunity gap through Year Up. I’ve learned that a mission with purpose means more than profit.
7 years ago I was a shy introvert. I still am but you probably wouldn’t know it. 7 years ago I was a Windows user.
I’ve become a San Francisco Giants fan & saw my team win the World Series. Twice.
In the past 7 years I’ve made friends.
Along the way I learned that without music life would be a waste.
Celebrating 7 Years
I don’t want any gold watch.
I want to do the same thing I’ve done every day for the past 7 years. I’m going to go to work.
I’m going to go and work with people who make Mozilla not just a job, who have made this my home for 7 years, and who are as passionate about Mozilla & the Open Web as I am.
Last night in Barcelona and I find myself in El Argentino listening to a single saxophone, my second most favorite instrument after Spanish guitar.
Quite a spectacular way to end. It bookmarks two of the most amazing things I’ve ever done with Mozilla ~ one in Buenos Aires and one in Barcelona. And magically I’ve been to both cities twice and each trip opened my eyes to new ways.
Feels fitting to sit in this restaurant. In this town.
This trip was unique for a number of reasons but it was the friendships that grew that mattered most to me.
I just re-read a text message I sent to someone before I left.
Would love nothing more than to hang out and get to know you better.
Friendship is an odd thing to me. Perhaps it’s just something I reflect on more as I approach my 40th birthday.
With the exception of the small circle of college friends whom I still keep in occasional contact with, most of the friends I’ve had in life disappear as life changes, as jobs change.
I want a change. I spend an inordinate amount of time with friends I work with, the ones who make my job a fun place to go to everyday. It is these people who I want to keep as friends outside of work.
On this trip I changed how I related to them. It wasn’t really hard. They probably don’t know it but I really like them. They fascinate me, they interest me. Each has differing shared experiences with me that no one else can relate to. I moved outside my comfort zone. I let them know I cared about each one.
Sometimes that meant waiting behind to escort a friend home. Sometimes it meant skipping on plan A so a friend wouldn’t be left alone.
And then this thing happened. New bonds were formed, barriers removed. It felt entirely right to share meals with each other, to order a couple dishes and simply share (tapas certainly helps that but it was more than the style of food.). Felt good.
You saved a seat for me when I was running late. I wanted to wait for you when you were running late. You waited for me, you included me. You shared with me, I shared with you. We explored together.
Is this what friendship is?
To each of you who made my trip something I couldn’t have imagined otherwise, I love you all. Thank You.
[This is a little old, probably written sometime in 1993.]
I think of the stars in the sky
how lonely they must be,
so far apart from each other.
I think of a candle without a flame,
missing that which makes it whole.
I think of the winter trees with their leaves all gone,
how sad they must feel.
I think about the tumbleweed,
blowing across the open land.
Lost, wandering about, not knowing where to go.
And then I think about you
the stars aren’t so lonely,
the trees aren’t so sad,
the candle shines brightly,
and the tumbleweed…
the tumbleweed isn’t so lost.
I wound up taking most of the day off from work yesterday to drive 200 miles to help a Friend. It was a long and exhausting day. This is a person who ten months ago I didn’t even know, let alone care about.
But this isn’t a post on what I did.
It’s that I was struck by a number of people and things that came together to help my Friend. A relatively large number of selfless people. Enough that thinking about it makes my eyes water. Enough that even writing this post causes me to choke up.
I was struck that amongst all those who I interacted with to help my Friend, not a single person did so with any expectations or desires of anything in return. We helped, simply, because it is what you do.
- There was the person at work who made sure I was going to drive my Friend. She made it clear that that not helping would have been a personal disappointment.
- There was the person who moved mountains in what felt like record time to make sure my Friend had certain resources.
- There was my other friend who did me a favor to help my Friend, who pulled in his own circle to help.
Lastly, my children. My children have meet my Friend exactly twice and once was last night. Yet they exhibit all the passion and care for humankind a parent could only wish for.
- There was my daughter who made it absolutely clear that I needed to make sure my Friend knew to call me whenever, should my Friend need help. My seven year old daughter.
- There was my son who checks in with me daily asking how my Friend is doing, who reminds me we have a spare room should my Friend need a place to stay. My nine year old son.
There is that adage that it takes a village to raise a child. The truth in that felt real yesterday. There was this sense all day that here we all are, many voices, one planet, one people.
I turned 39 this past Sunday.
My daughter and I share the same birthday (as does @selenagomez!). Over the years this has turned into a fun game of arguing over whose birthday it is. And over these years my priorities of what I want on my birthday have changed.
- Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.
When I was younger I remember going here for my birthday. All the pomp and circumstance! This place more or less disappeared. When I saw they had re-opened a few in Southern California I knew what we were going on my LIZ’s birthday.
I couldn’t have been happier when the band came out, drums and horns blaring and LIZ on her chair. She’s never seen anything like this. She had this crazy big smile on her face as she soaked up being the center of attention (for literally the entire restaurant).
In that very instant I saw the young woman she will eventually become. Full of confidence and poise.
- My son took me to lunch.
Those who know me know I enjoy a great culinary experience. I like tasting new foods. I love the presentation.
When WNZ asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I only wanted him to take me out for lunch (well all four of us). I figured I’d give him some cash and let him treat. The more we talked about it the more I could tell he was getting excited about doing it.
He took me out to lunch at Opah Restaurant, a place my wife and I used to visit when we lived in the area. I kept trying to give him money but he’d have none of that.
“Do you need some money?”
“No Dad, I’ve got this.”
And in that instant, I saw the young man that he will eventually become. Full of independence and pride.
I may not be a man with a lot of material wealth but nothing could have made me happier than those two things this weekend.