TALK 10 - Berkeley REI


Ten years ago, I was at a party at SXSW. I hadn't graduated college yet, and I was treating the event like a job fair. I had won a flip cam (Google it) and was going around interviewing people for my blog.

One of the people was Aaron Strout, and in the weeks that passed after the event, I asked him if he would be my mentor.

Over the next 10 years, Aaron would be my first call for anything work-related. When I quit my first job, when I left agency life to skydive full-time, when I returned to corporate America, when I left agency life for startup life, and last year.

Last May, I was at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, on the phone with Aaron, talking about how I planned to leave the startup.

He told me to go write the book, that I had been through a lot and my story could help people. The next day, I quit.

Four days later, I took his advice and dove back into writing, warming up with some blog posts about the hikes I'd been doing to train for the TCT. In doing so, I discovered that I had been #hikingmyfeelings  instead of eating and drinking them.

Fast forward to Berkeley, Aaron was there.


The last time he saw me speak publicly was when we did a talk together at SXSW in 2011 titled "Road Rules for Mentoring, What's Appropriate (and what's not?)". That was more of a conversation than anything rehearsed, so this would be different. Aaron knows my story, he's the one who told me to write it last year. He's been in the front row for this chapter of my life and has given some great feedback on what we're building over here. He and his wife are some of our biggest supporters.

Still, I was nervous.

This talk was different than the others. While a lot of what I talk about is heavy, there are several opportunities for laughter and joy, and this group of folks got it.

Maybe I slowed down enough to let the funny parts land.

Maybe the folks in Berkeley are quick on their feet.

Maybe it was a lucky coincidence.

All I know is I walked out of there truly believing that I'm on the right path, and I'm so grateful for the guidance that got me here.

Looking back to that chat last year, I think he also meant "go live the life you want to write about."

And that's exactly what I'm doing.